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October 22, 2006CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - John Bunting will not return as head coach of the University of North Carolina football program in 2007, Director of Athletics Dick Baddour announced this evening.
Bunting, a 1972 UNC graduate, is in his sixth year as the Tar Heels' head coach. Bunting will continue to coach the Tar Heels through the rest of this season.
Bunting and Baddour met on Sunday at which time Baddour informed Bunting that he would be relieved of his duties at the end of this season. The team was told Sunday evening at a meeting after the players returned from Fall Break.
Bunting became head coach in December 2000. He led the Tar Heels to a Peach Bowl win following the 2001 season and wins over No. 5 ranked Florida State in 2001 and No. 4 Miami in 2004. He has three seasons remaining on his contract (2007-08-09) at $286,200 per year.
"Changing coaches is never a pleasant experience, but it is even more difficult when you consider the character and integrity of someone like John Bunting," says Baddour.
"He and his wife, Dawn, have given so much to the University, to Carolina athletics and to the local community. John led us to some of the most exciting wins in Carolina football history, put character and academics first, and never once compromised his or the University's principles. This is simply one of those times when it is in the best interest of the football program to make a change. I appreciate and applaud John's commitment to his alma mater, to our football program, and most important, to his student-athletes and coaches."
"I have an extraordinary amount of respect for John and have thoroughly enjoyed the relationship we have forged over these six seasons," Baddour continues.
"We've gone through great highs and disappointing lows, but John always remained focused on the next game, the next practice, the next recruit. He cares deeply for the University and the game of football and takes great care to see that the game is played with unbridled passion and enthusiasm. He is a Tar Heel for life."
"I am disappointed and of course I don't agree with the decision, but I know I must accept it," says Bunting.
"My love for this great University has not and never will waver. I am very proud of the many great things we have accomplished over the past six years. We simply have not won enough games this year."
"Dick Baddour has supported Carolina football and me in every possible way. I appreciate the opportunity he gave me six years ago. We've developed a very strong working and personal relationship that I value very much."
"My thoughts and concerns are for my players, coaches and staff, and my focus for the next five weeks will be on helping them. I will do all I can to prepare them for our remaining games, challenge them to accomplish all they can academically and ensure that they continue to represent this University in a first-class manner."
"My staff and I are committed to maintaining our current recruiting class. We currently have a strong recruiting class and we will work hard to continue to impress upon them the many incredible aspects of the University of North Carolina and the Tar Heel football program. We have many components of a winning program on the right track and I am confident Carolina football will reach great heights in the future."
"I want to thank our many great supporters that have hung in there with us through thick and thin. That includes those faculty and staff with whom I have developed a strong bond as they helped us strive to reach our goals on and off the field."
"John Bunting is a great Tar Heel, and he has run our football program with integrity and honor," says Chancellor James Moeser.
"We have utmost respect for John, his passion for the University and his commitment to his student-athletes and staff. We are pleased that he will coach the rest of the season and hope that this decision will put to rest some of the questions surrounding the future of the program, and allow the team its best chance to be successful in the remaining games."
Baddour and Bunting will meet with the media on Monday at 11 a.m. on the fifth floor of the Kenan Stadium North Box.