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Carolina picks Doherty as new coach

After a frantic 12-day hunt and four highly publicized misfires, the search for a men's basketball coach at North Carolina is over. Matt Doherty is the new Don.

The Carolina graduate and member of the 1982 national championship team was introduced at a press conference Tuesday. Doherty leaves Notre Dame for Chapel Hill after only one season at the helm in South Bend. He said a call from a former teammate made the difference.

"This morning Michael Jordan called me about 7:30 a.m.," Doherty said. "At the end of the conversation, he said, 'Who knows, if it doesn't work out with you, it might have to go outside the family.' Right then, I made my mind up."

Family was a word heard often at the news conference attended by former coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, who resigned June 30. Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour commented on the program's failure to harness Kansas coach Roy Williams, an assistant under Smith, as a replacement.

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    "After [the press conference where it was announced Williams was staying at Kansas] I went right in and called Matt," Baddour said. "Very early on Matt was someone that we were excited about."

    But it seems doubtful that a first-year college coach would be Carolina's first choice. A series of revealing statements suggested that after losing the 49-year-old Williams the Heels turned to other Smith disciples. South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler, 52, announced July 7 that he was staying in Columbia. Then Larry Brown, 59, said the next day he wanted to remain coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. That afternoon, George Karl, 49, also announced he was staying with the Milwaukee Bucks, who refused to allow the coach to start negotiations with Carolina.

    So then it was on to the 38-year-old Doherty, the next in the line of succession. Last season, Doherty's Irish finished 22-15 and just missed an NCAA berth. Instead, they went to the finals of the NIT, giving their coach national attention and significant buzz amongst the coaching ranks.

    But Doherty said his roots were always in Chapel Hill, where he spent four years as a player before graduating in 1984.

    "When I took the Notre Dame job, Coach Smith told me 'take a job at a place where you can see yourself staying for the rest of your life,'" Doherty said. "There haven't been many coaches here in the last many years, so you don't think it will ever happen."

    In fact, Doherty is only the program's third coach in the past 40 years. Both Smith and Guthridge resigned under favorable circumstances, making the position as stable as a Supreme Court justiceship.

    Doherty will start out with a six-year contract paying $125,000 a year before incentives and endorsement deals.

    Also, the new coach announced Tuesday that he will bring his assistants - Doug Wojcik, Fred Quartlebaum and Bob MacKinnon - from Notre Dame with him to Chapel Hill. That means Tar Heel assistants Pat Sullivan, Phil Ford and Dave Hanners are looking for new employment.


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