This is a difficult day for all of us who love the University of North Carolina. It is not a day I expected to occur as I watched our season unfold.
I respect Coach Doherty's decision to step down as head coach and thank him for putting the interests of the University, its basketball program and its student-athletes ahead of his own. It's difficult to follow two coaches as successful as Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, but Coach Doherty handled that with a great deal of class. He has great passion for this basketball program and the University. My hope and expectation was for him to coach here for many years and I am disappointed that is not the case.
Coach Doherty's resignation is a not a result of the number of wins and losses we achieved this year or in the past three years. This year's team won 19 games against the toughest rated schedule in the ACC and one of the most challenging in all of college basketball; they overcame an injury to one of the most important players on the team; they beat NCAA Final 16 teams Kansas, UConn, Duke and Maryland; they were the youngest team in major college basketball and the youngest team in our school's history. They accomplished a great deal for which we are very proud and thankful.
At the same time, the players were constantly asked about their future in the program. They agreed out of respect for Carolina Basketball to keep their feelings to themselves until after the season.
Carolina Basketball is a public trust and the athletic director and head coach are charged with maintaining that trust. All of the conversations Coach Doherty and I have had concern what is best for the future of Carolina Basketball and I respect him for that.
Last year Coach Doherty and I discussed my meeting with the team, but decided he and the team should work out any concerns and issues. If and when student-athletes from any program ask to speak to me about their program, I direct them to speak to their coach and work it out with them. Then again this year, he and I had numerous conversations about the future of Carolina Basketball and he encouraged me to talk to the players after the final game. We agreed it was necessary for me to do that.
I informed Chancellor Moeser of these meetings and he invited me to ask Dean of Students Melissa Exum to participate, as well. Dean Exum has a long and highly-respected career in working with student issues. She sat in on the meetings to listen, observe and ask questions.
The resignation is also not just a result of the meetings we had with current players. It would be extremely unfair to those players and it would be an unqualified mistake to say the resignation was a result of only their concerns and questions.
It is undeniable there has been some turmoil regarding the status of players in the program for some time. Coach Doherty worked hard to get beyond that turmoil and at times was successful.
This is an extremely difficult day for Matt and his staff and their families. It is made harder by the fact Coach Doherty is one of our own. This was an agonizing decision for him to make and I am heartbroken for him, his family and his assistant coaches and their young families. He made this decision with a great deal of class and in looking out for what is best for the University and Carolina Basketball. I thank him for that. I also want to thank the assistant coaches for the contributions they have made to the University.
Carolina Basketball has long stood for class, tradition, success, stability and respect. I ask our fans to join us in restoring the unity that made Tar Heel fans so proud for so many years.
We will begin the process immediately to hire our next head coach. I have no timetable for that to happen. We will hire an outstanding coach and move our program forward.
Statement from Matt Doherty
Effective today, I have resigned the position of head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. Clearly, this has been a most difficult day for my staff, our families and for me.
Our responsibility has been immense given the outstanding history of the University of North Carolina, both academically and athletically. I have always recognized and taken very seriously the responsibility entrusted to us as a coaching staff. That responsibility extends to our players and our fans. And, ultimately, to the tradition I have personally be a part of since 1980.
I thank the players, the coaches and their families, and the administrative staff for their dedication and hard work. I would also like to express my appreciation to the students and fans that made the Smith Center such an exciting place to be this season. I continue to wish the best for this program and this university.
Statement from UNC Chancellor James Moeser
"I want to start by echoing the statements of Dick Baddour. This is not a happy day for any of us. This is very difficult, particularly because it involves someone we care about. Matt Doherty has made a tough decision, one that took courage and one that puts the players, the program and the University first.
Carolina basketball has always had a higher standard than perhaps any other program in the country, not just for winning, but for the quality and character of the program and the people in it. The issue here is not basketball, not wins and losses, or the players running the program. It's about leadership.
At Carolina, we talk about student-athletes and teacher-coaches. To be sure we want good athletes and we want to win, but on this campus coaches are also responsible for creating an environment for learning, for character development, for building a team of good leaders and good citizens. That's the Carolina standard.
I want to offer some perspective and background. Some observers have characterized this as a player revolt. Others have implied that we only started looking into this when the season ended last week. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dick Baddour and I have been monitoring this program for some time. When I began to hear a number of concerns, I felt the need to separate fact from fiction. And the only way to do that was to talk to the students in the program. We would do this for any program at the University, academic or athletic. It's my job as Chancellor to listen to our students and take their problems seriously.
The Board of Trustees and President Molly Broad have been fully briefed and support this direction.
This has been very difficult for all of us - most of all our players. I'm proud of them. They played hard. They played well. They played for each other. These are kids that love Carolina, love the program and love the uniform. That is what this is about.