"I greatly value the time I had at Carolina," said Connors, who joined the UNC staff in 2001. "I was fortunate to work with a lot of exceptional coaches. During my time at UNC, I felt that I was forced to overcome a lot of adversity, and that made me become better as a coach. I think our program improved over the years, and that I was forced to learn a lot, and there is a lot to learn in this profession."
Connors is already nostalgic about the past 10 years, reflecting on his time in Chapel Hill.
"I have been very happy with the progress of our players at UNC over the years, we've set a lot of S&C records during my time," he said. "I have been very privileged to work for Butch Davis, in terms of professionalism and in many other ways I've learned a lot from him."
Family considerations figured heavily into Connors's decision.
"I moved my family to Morehead City five years ago, partially because I wanted my son to play football for a close friend of mine," he said. "We've had to maintain two households, which has been a strain financially. In addition, my daughter recently developed an illness, and I want to be able to be close to her."
Connors actually nearly left Chapel Hill during the middle of the 2010 campaign, as an attractive job offer came his way.
"This past season I was basically hired to work for the United States Marine Corps, to design a new strength program for Marines at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton engaged in counter-terrorism, through Jacobs Technology – it was a done deal," Connors said. "However, I met with UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour, and they restructured my contract."
Financial considerations and the long-term prospects at East Carolina also played a role in Connors's decision.
"East Carolina offered me an attractive package, and an administrative position over all the athletic teams there. It is a position where I can fulfill my duties until I reach retirement age, which was also important to me," Connors said.
Connors also indicated that he feels he's leaving behind a team that has a big future – in 2011 - but is looking forward to the challenge in Greenville.
"I think UNC is going to have an outstanding team in 2011, a BCS-bowl team; I will be pulling for them in every game next year except one," he said. "I have always looked at myself as I guy who likes challenges, and I want to see what I can do at East Carolina."