Mike Fox Retires After 22-Year Run at the Helm of Carolina Baseball
Wherever you look at the University of North Carolina, you will encounter some of the very best coaches in their respective sports.
Anson Dorrance. Women’s soccer head coach. 21 NCAA National Championships. There have only been 38 NCAA Tournaments. Dorrance has won 55 percent of the NCAA Tournaments ever held in women’s soccer. Enough said.
Roy Williams. Men’s basketball. Three National Championships. One of only six coaches with three or more championships. Fourth winningest coach in Division 1 history.
Karen Shelton. Women’s field hockey. Won eight of the 39 NCAA Championships. On a current streak of 11 straight Final Fours.
Jenny Levy. Women’s lacrosse. Two NCAA National Championships. Made eight of the last 11 Final Fours.
These are just four examples of the legendary coaches currently employed in Chapel Hill.
Another of those legends, Mike Fox, announced his retirement on Friday after 22 years as Carolina’s head baseball coach and 37 years as a college baseball head coach.
In a letter to the Carolina community, Fox said:
“Serving as the head baseball coach at my alma mater for the past 22 seasons has been one of the greatest blessings of my professional life. I have been in love with the University of North Carolina since I was a young boy. To see my dream of becoming a Tar Heel student, player and coach is hard for me to even comprehend.”
Fox retires as the winningest active baseball coach, both in terms of number of wins (1,487) and win percentage (.731). He is seventh all-time in number of wins.
During his 22-year tenure at Carolina, Fox amassed a 948-406-1 record. Under his leadership, the Tar Heels won ACC championships in 2007, 2013, and 2018, went to the College World Series in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2001, 2013, and 2018, and advanced to the championship round of the College World Series in both 2006 and 2007. The four consecutive World Series appearances (2006-09) was the first time an ACC had achieved that accomplishment.
Fox was selected as Baseball America’s National Coach of the Year in 2008 and ACC Coach of the Year in 2018.
105 of Coach’s players were Major League Baseball draft picks, 15 were first-round/supplemental round picks, and 27 have played in the Major Leagues. Tar Heel players won a whole host of regional and national awards during Fox’s tenure, highlighted by Andrew Miller and Dustin Ackley’s National Player of the Year awards in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Coach’s retirement will afford him the opportunity to spend the level of precious and meaningful time with his family that the coaching profession does not often afford. From his words, it appears that the months of quarantine have stirred in Coach Fox a renewed passion to be at home with his wife, children, and grandchildren.
"Over the past five months, I have come to realize more than ever the importance of family. For the first time in almost 40 years, the time without coaching allowed me to truly experience family once again. Cheryl and I gained another grandbaby, and because our daughter and son-in-law live very close, we are able to experience the joy of children daily. I have also been able to spend more time with my son and his wife. It has been a blessing.
Life slowed down for Cheryl and me, and we discovered the enjoyment of a simpler life. Thankfully I am healthy, and I feel this is the right time to step away from the rigors of coaching. I will miss the players, coaches, co-workers, and our great fans, but it is time for me to be a full-time husband, father, and grandfather, and do other things with my life.”
While Fox himself may not be in the Carolina dugout at Boshamer Stadium in the Spring of 2021, his legacy will live on through his successor and longtime coaching partner Scott Forbes.
Forbes’ first season as head coach will be his 20th as part of the Carolina coaching staff, and 24th season as a college coach.
In his letter to the Carolina community, Fox said of the new head coach,
“And of course, our new head coach, Scott Forbes has been by my side for the past 23 years. He was an outstanding player at N.C. Wesleyan and has been part of my coaching staff in every conceivable role – assistant at Wesleyan, volunteer coach for four years in Chapel Hill, and assistant coach since 2006. He has served as pitching coach, third base coach, hitting instructor, recruiting coordinator, and associate head coach.
Scott has been the mainstay for any and all success of Carolina baseball since 1998 because of his loyalty, work ethic, and passion. I have been so very blessed to work with Scott and consider his wife, Mandy, and him and their daughters, Hannah and Ally, as members of my family. Scott is a great coach, but a better person.
He turned down several opportunities to move on to other jobs to stay at Carolina. He is more than ready to be a head coach and will do an excellent job. I am very grateful to our Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham for rewarding Scott's loyalty, believing in his ability to lead the program, and keeping the consistency within the program.”
Fox’s parting words in his letter sum up the Carolina family beautifully. With that in mind, I’ll let Coach have the last word on his way out.
“I am still very much in love with everything about the University of North Carolina and, of course, I will always be a Tar Heel.”
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