Fedora, Tar Heels squelch departure speculation
North Carolina experienced its first trip through the coaching rumor mill under Larry Fedora, and its head coach is still in place.
Fedora was named as a finalist for the Tennessee job by Internet sites in Knoxville on Tuesday, but a source close to the UNC program said Thursday that Fedora never interviewed and is not interested in the position.
Fedora told players at a team meeting Thursday that he is staying in Chapel Hill.
Speaking at an event honoring the national champion UNC women’s soccer team on Thursday, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said he was excited to have Fedora lead the football program.
“He talked about it a year ago in trying to build something very special here,” Cunningham said. “He thinks that there is a great opportunity, great potential, and I think he just started to scratch the surface of it this year, and I want to build a partnership with him, and he wants to build it with his coaches and student-athletes.”
Fedora was reportedly one of three main candidates at Tennessee, along with Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. Both Gundy and Strong turned down the Volunteers, with Strong signing a contract extension with Louisville on Thursday.
There was no immediate word if Fedora, who just finished the first year of a seven-year contract, was able to parlay Tennessee’s interest into a raise of his own. Fedora just finished the first year of a seven-year contract.
North Carolina’s last non-interim coach, Butch Davis, was also the subject of speculation after his first season at UNC in ’07 when the Arkansas job opened up. Davis was given a one-year extension and a $291,000 raise by then-AD Dick Baddour, and he coached the next three seasons with the Tar Heels before being fired.
Fedora, who has a policy of not commenting about coaching speculation, never publicly denied the Tennessee rumors. But Jordan Fieulleteau, a senior receiver at Raleigh’s Wakefield High School who has verbally committed to play for the Tar Heels, said he spoke with the coach on Wednesday and received assurances that he was staying.
Cunningham acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday that speculation is harmful to a program. When asked if he needed to reassure the fan base after the latest rumors, Cunningham responded: “Coach Fedora has just been outstanding. We’re delighted and very excited that he’s going to lead us into the future.”