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Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Updated: April 7, 8:57 AM ET
Tar Heels to sever ties with coach Doherty

ESPN.com news services

North Carolina basketball coach Matt Doherty, whose job status and relationship with his players have been in question for months, will not return next season, a source with knowledge of the decision has told ESPN's Dick Vitale.

A spokesman for the school would not confirm Doherty's fate. His job status will be discussed at an 8 p.m. ET news conference.

Sources have told ESPN.com that North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour wanted to make a decision on Doherty's fate before the Final Four. Baddour has met with players and their parents in the past week about their relationship with Doherty, who just completed his third year as Tar Heels coach.

Doherty and Baddour met for several hours Monday night, and Doherty arrived at the Smith Center at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. Baddour left about 45 minutes later.

Speculation about Doherty's job status and potential player unrest dogged the program for much of the season.

Doherty was The Associated Press national coach of the year in his first season after leading the Tar Heels to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the team slumped badly last season after sophomore Joseph Forte entered the NBA draft and Doherty was unable to prod football/basketball players Julius Peppers and Ronald Curry to join the team for the ACC season.

The Tar Heels finished 8-20 overall, 4-7 in the ACC. But the program took a huge swing upward this season with the addition of freshmen Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May. The Tar Heels won the Preseason NIT and were on their way to a likely NCAA bid before May suffered a broken foot that forced him to miss the entire ACC schedule.

Nonetheless, North Carolina beat Duke at home to close the regular season, defeated Maryland in the first round of the ACC tournament and then advanced to the third round of the postseason NIT, where it lost to Georgetown and finished 19-16.

Doherty has three years left on a six-year contract that pays him $855,000 a season.

Kansas coach Roy Williams, who spurned the Tar Heels three years ago and remained at Kansas -- a decision that led to Doherty's hiring by Carolina -- told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he was extremely upset over the possibility that Doherty would lose his job.

Doherty was a teammate of Michael Jordan's at North Carolina in the early 1980s when Williams was an assistant under Dean Smith. Doherty also spent several seasons as an assistant on Williams' Kansas staff before becoming head coach at Notre Dame, where he spent one season before moving on to North Carolina.

A rift between Williams and Kansas AD Al Bohl, however, could force Williams to listen again. Williams' children also live in the North Carolina area and he has a home in South Carolina. Williams, whose Jayhawks have reached a second straight Final Four, said he would not address North Carolina's situation in New Orleans later this week.

"I got a call about 10 or 15 minutes ago where somebody said the same thing (that Coach Doherty may be leaving UNC)'" Kansas coach Roy Williams said at a Tuesday press conference. I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this week and I'm not letting anybody bother me with any junk if it doesn't do anything with Kansas basketball, my players, great places to eat or rivers to spit in.

"That's the extent of my conversation about any other job whether it's North Carolina or anybody."

Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown and Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl, both members of the Carolina family, might resurface again as candidates. Tar Heels officials also could look outside their inner circle for the first time since Smith resigned. Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Utah's Rick Majerus, Illinois' Bill Self, Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson, Marquette's Tom Crean -- another Final Four coach who might face UNC-fueled distractions in New Orleans -- Gonzaga's Mark Few and a host of others could be involved if the search expands.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.