UNCP Trustee Wiley Barrett and his wife Dianne thought they were showing up for a quick photoshoot inside the Jones Athletic Center.
The Southern Pines couple didn’t want any fanfare after making a generous gift to UNCP’s men’s and women’s basketball program.
Much to their surprise, several of Wiley’s former college teammates, friends, current players and coaches had gathered for a dedication ceremony in the Jones Center lobby.
“I thought we were just coming down to take a picture with the plaque,” Wiley said. “I had no idea that a couple of my former teammates would be here. The fact that they thought enough to come back really means a lot. That was a great feeling.”
Joe Gallagher and Barry Hopkins, who played alongside Barrett from 1965 to 1969, made the trip. As did, Jim Gane, the son of former head coach Lacey Gane.
“Dianne and I don’t have any children,” said Wiley, overcome with emotions. “Over the years, these players have been like our children. You guys are our family.”
The Barretts, who have enjoyed successful careers – Wiley in education and Dianne in banking – were motivated to give back in order to provide opportunities for UNCP students to do the same one day.
“Somebody provided for me when I was in school and now it is my turn.”
Before the unveiling of the Dr. Wiley and Dianne Barrett Basketball Suite, several university dignitaries praised the Barretts for their continuous support of UNCP and Braves athletics.
“This dedication is a fitting reminder of the long influence Wiley and Dianne Barrett have had on UNC Pembroke and their commitment to giving back,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“This is another way we see them shaping the future of students, whether in secondary education, college or in sports.”
For more than a decade, the Barretts have been regulars in the stands at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court during basketball season. They travel with the team, too.
Their support has extended to the classroom. In 2014, they established the Wiley and Dianne Barrett Endowed Basketball Scholarship for Men’s and Women’s Basketball.
Women’s head coach John Haskins said it is support like this that enables UNCP to have a successful program in such a competitive conference.
“Dianne and Wiley, thank you for this generous donation to our athletic program. I am going to be proud to come to work every day in the Dr. Wiley and Dianne Basketball Suite.”
Men’s head coach Ben Miller paid homage to Wiley and other former players for establishing a winning tradition.
“When I had a chance to meet you guys after I was hired, you felt like family right away,” he said. “You and Dianne have supported us with so much passion over the years. I’ve worked at four universities and been around four more with my father and I’ve never seen former players with the love, enthusiasm and passion that you guys bring to this program.”
Wiley, who played small forward, credits his time at UNCP as some of the best years of his life.
“I was a naive person from a small high school, but UNCP is where I grew up. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to maintain friendships with the guys I played with. We keep up with one another. We talk and get along … they are part of my family.”
After earning his degree in 1969, he went on to earn degrees at UNC Charlotte and Campbell University. Wiley spent 30 years as a teacher, coach and principal with Moore County public schools. He has devoted his time to many civic organizations, including serving as chairman of the Moore County School Board. He has served the last six years on UNCP Board of Trustees.
Wiley also spent 50 years officiating high school basketball, earning the coveted Golden Whistle Merit Award in 2015. Dianne, also a lifelong resident of Southern Pines, received her undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill and subsequently enjoyed a long and successful career in banking.