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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Peterson rejoins old friend Jordan with Bobcats

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Coastal Carolina coach Buzz Peterson announced Tuesday that he was leaving the school to join his former North Carolina teammate Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Jordan rewarded Peterson for their friendship over the years with the title of the director of player personnel.

"It's a chance to be with a close friend," Peterson told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We've talked about this for sometime but I didn't expect it. I'm just going to go there and learn from Rod Higgins, Bernie Bickerstaff and to work alongside Michael. He's going to work at it. He wants to make sure this is a successful franchise and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Charlotte has two first-round picks -- Nos. 8 and 22 -- in the June 28 draft.

Peterson said Jordan told him to be in Charlotte "first thing in the morning," to get ready for the draft.

Peterson was 35-25 in two seasons with the Chanticleers, who hired him after he was fired as Tennessee's coach in 2005. Before his four seasons with the Volunteers, Peterson coached at Tulsa and Appalachian State.

"We appreciate everything that Buzz has done for the program and Coastal Carolina University since he arrived two years ago," athletic director Warren Koegel told The Associated Press. "This is an opportunity that he felt he could not pass up. We wish Buzz and his family all the best as they start this new phase of their lives."

Peterson, 201-134 in 11 seasons as a head coach, is the latest Jordan confidant to join the Bobcats since Jordan bought into the team last summer. Team president Fred Whitfield and general manager Higgins worked with Jordan when he ran the Washington Wizards, while new coach Sam Vincent was played with Jordan on the Chicago Bulls.

Last week, former North Carolina point guard Phil Ford left the New York Knicks to join the Bobcats as an assistant coach.

Peterson was a senior at Asheville High School when he beat out Jordan as North Carolina's player of the year. Peterson then played with and roomed with Jordan, and the pair helped the Tar Heels win the 1982 national championship.

Peterson's hiring completes a shakeup in the basketball operations for the Bobcats, who just completed their third season.

Bickerstaff, coach and general manager since the team's inception, stepped down from both jobs and became executive vice president. Vincent and Higgins were hired to fill Bickerstaff's previous roles, while Peterson will head the team's scouting department.

Jordan tried to persuade Peterson to join the team for several months, but Peterson wanted time to decide whether to leave coaching.

Peterson met with Jordan and other Bobcats officials over the weekend. He returned to Coastal Carolina and told Koegel of his decision Tuesday. He then met with his players.

A search for Peterson's replacement at Coastal Carolina will begin immediately, Koegel told AP.

Peterson told ESPN.com that he hopes that assistant coach Jamie Kachmarik is the choice to succeed him.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.