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November 13, 2006

Butch to Carolina is done deal

It's a done deal.

Butch Davis, former head coach at the University of Miami (Fla.) and the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, will be the next head coach at North Carolina, the school announced Monday afternoon.

"My family and I are very excited at the thought of being an active part of the University of North Carolina family," Davis said in a press release from UNC. "It's one of the most outstanding universities and athletic programs in the country. The timing of my decision to consider coaching opportunities and the opening at UNC seemed to intersect perfectly. [Director of athletics] Dick Baddour made my introduction to Carolina happen in a well-planned, well-organized manner and did an outstanding job of presenting the virtues of UNC - it's people, it's strong commitment to both academics and athletics, as well as the exciting, active part it plays in the community.

"Obviously, he succeeded. And, for that, I'm grateful. As Chancellor [James] Moeser, Dick Baddour and I decided jointly, the focus for the entire football family of student-athletes and coaches in Chapel Hill ought to be on their final two games of the season. I will be happy to expand on my hopes and visions for UNC football when we get together for the news conference at the end of this month. For now, I'll be trying to teach my son, Drew, what a Tar Heel is."

Davis will be officially introduced at a press conference on Nov. 27, two days after the final football game of the season, which will be against Duke.

The University and Davis reached an agreement in principle last week. Contract details will be released when the university's board of trustees approves them at a later date, the school announced.

"We are proud to make this announcement and delighted with the results of this search," Baddour said. "Butch Davis became our first choice early in the process, although we did not know of his interest in us. We were excited to learn of his interest in Carolina and our football program and proceeded from that point. He's a first-class individual who is committed to preparing his student-athletes for success in all aspects of their lives. I was impressed with his knowledge of the university and his vision for the football program."

The timing of the deal, with John Bunting about to coach his final two games at UNC, led to this arrangement, Baddour said.

"Although we are tremendously excited to be making this announcement," Baddour said in the release, "the chancellor, Coach Davis and I feel strongly that our student-athletes and coaches be given the best opportunity to focus on the final two games against N.C. State and Duke. Coach John Bunting, his staff and the players have reacted to the events of the last several weeks with class. They have prepared and played admirably under the circumstances. So as not to detract from their efforts, we have all agreed that none of the principals will be available for further comment until the Nov. 27th press conference. We hope the media and our fans will respect our decision."

UNC will play arch-rival N.C. State at noon at Kenan Stadium on Saturday in the final home game of the year. The Tar Heels are 1-9.

Davis is expected to be among the highest-paid, if not the highest, football coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

His contract is believed to worth around $2 million per year, although those details have not been released.

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams said on Monday that he is not worried about renegotiating his contract in lieu of this situation.

"I'm comfortable with my contract," Williams said. "I signed it. When I left Kansas [in April of 2003], with one exception, I was still working out of the contract I agreed to in 1990. So I've got no problems."

Davis is believed to have already assembled much of his coaching staff, which appears to include a number of people who have worked with him in the past at Miami, Cleveland and even his days as an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Davis inherited a Miami team that had been placed on probation and stripped of 31 scholarships. He rebuilt it into a national power once again and restored a sense of dignity to the program. He left after the 2000 season to become head coach for the Browns, but the team he left in Miami won the 2001 national title and played for the championship in 2002. Many of the players off those teams eventually played pro football.

Davis is 54 years old. He attended Arkansas and played football for the Razorbacks.

UNC's decision to invest the resources necessary to hire Davis and the staff he wants shows a commitment to football that is equal to basketball.


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