Ford joins the Pistons less than a month after Detroit beat the Los Angeles Lakers in five games to win the NBA title. Former Tar Heel player and assistant coach Larry Brown is the head coach. Former UNC players and coaches Dave Hanners and Pat Sullivan are also on the Detroit staff.
"I am honored to have an opportunity to work with Coach Brown," says Ford. "This was a tough decision. Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina are so special to me. I have spent many wonderful years here, met many people that have made an impact on my life and had many memories that will last a lifetime. But I love the game of basketball and the opportunity to coach again, especially with Coach Brown and his staff in Detroit, is too good to pass up. It will be fun to once again work alongside Dave and Pat.
"I'd like to thank everyone at the Rams Club and the University for the opportunity they gave me the last four years. One thing is for sure I may be leaving Chapel Hill, but I will always be a part of the University and the Carolina athletic program."
Ford will begin his duties in late August.
"I am delighted Phil has this opportunity to go to the NBA champions and work with one of our former players and coaches in Larry Brown," said Dean Smith. "Larry is excited for Phil, and I know Phil shares that excitement. He's excited about getting back to coaching. He does it well, and he's missed it these last four years. It's a perfect marriage.
"Larry Brown and Phil Ford are two of the greatest point guards I was ever privileged to coach. They are both excellent teachers and coaches, and I look forward to watching them in the future."
Carolina head coach Roy Williams said, "This is a great opportunity for Phil. He will do a tremendous job. I will miss him personally as he was a phenomenal help in my first year back at North Carolina. When you think of Carolina Basketball, Phil Ford comes to mind immediately, but he will be a great asset to Larry and Pistons organization."
He won the Wooden Award as a senior in 1978 and was a first-team All-America on three occasions. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 1977 and 1978. In 2002, Ford was named one of the 10 best male athletes and one of the 50 greatest men¹s basketball players in ACC history.
As a UNC assistant coach, the Rocky Mount, N.C., native was a part of six Final Four appearances, six NCAA Regional titles and five ACC Tournament titles. He coached 12 first-round draft picks, including 1998 National Player of the Year Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, George Lynch, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace.
"This is a great day for Phil," says John Montgomery, president of the Rams Club. "He loves coaching and being able to join the Pistons staff is a wonderful opportunity. Phil has done outstanding work for the Rams Club and I know he always be a great ambassador for the University."
"No one loves Carolina more than Phil Ford and no student-athlete may have as many fans as does Phil," says Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. "He played with all his heart, he was a mentor to dozens of young players as a coach and worked tirelessly for the University since his coaching days. We wish Phil all the best and know he will always be treasured at Carolina."
PHIL FORD BIO
Phil Ford has been an invaluable member of the Carolina basketball family for 30 years. As a point guard, Ford earned first-team All-America honors three times and was the 1978 National Player of the Year. In his 12-year stint as a UNC assistant coach, Ford was a tireless instructor, motivator and recruiter. Ford was a part of six Final Four appearances, six NCAA Regional titles and five ACC Tournament titles. He coached 12 first-round draft picks, including 1998 National Player of the Year Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, George Lynch, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Joseph Forte.
Ford, Jamison and Michael Jordan are the only Tar Heel players to win the John Wooden Award as the nation's top player.
Ford, a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., and a 1974 graduate of Rocky Mount High School, was a backcourt star on Carolina teams that won 99 of 124 games in his four years. Those teams went to the NCAA Tournament four times and advanced to the championship game in Ford's junior year. As a senior, Ford won the coveted Wooden Award. He was also named the National Player of the Year in 1978 by the United States Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and The Sporting News.
Ford is Carolina's alltime leading scorer with 2,290 points. He saved what was perhaps his greatest collegiate performance for his final home game in Carmichael Auditorium, scoring a career-high 34 points in leading the Tar Heels to an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship-clinching 87-83 win over Duke. Ford also held Carolinas single-game, season and career assist records until Jeff Lebo, Ed Cota and Kenny Smith eclipsed Ford's numbers.
Ford was the first freshman during Smith's tenure to start in the first game of his Carolina career. He capped a brilliant freshman year by leading the Tar Heels to the 1975 ACC Tournament championship, becoming the first freshman in league history to win the Everett Case Award as the Most Valuable Player in the ACC Tournament.
Ford earned first-team All-ACC accolades in 1976, 1977 and 1978. He also was named first-team All-ACC Tournament in 1975, 1976 and 1977 and second-team in 1978. He was listed on multiple All-America teams in earning first-team status in 1976, 1977 and 1978. He was also a first-team freshman All-America in 1975.
In his senior season Ford was voted the ACC Player of the Year, and in both 1977 and 1978 he was given the Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the ACC Athlete of the Year. In May 1978, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.
Ford was taken as the second player in the 1978 NBA draft by the Kansas City Kings and won the 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He also was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team and to the All-NBA second team. Ford's tenure with the Kings lasted four seasons, and he finished his NBA career by playing one year with the New Jersey Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks and two seasons with the Houston Rockets.
Ford was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May 1991. In 2002, Ford was named one of the 10 best male athletes and one of the 50 greatest men¹s basketball players in ACC history.
Ford and his wife, Traci, have a daughter, Tyler, 14, and a son, Mitchell, 12.