M College BB
Message board
Weekly lineup
NCAA StatSearch
 Thursday, July 6
'Exhausted' Guthridge hangs it up
 ESPN.com news services

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge retired Friday after three years as Dean Smith's successor. The move opens one of the most prestigious jobs in college sports, although the job might not remain vacant for long.

Guthridge spent 30 seasons as an assistant to Smith, the winningest coach in college basketball history.

Friday, June 30
With North Carolina's tradition, it's not surprising that UNC is going after a former Tar Heel as its new head coach. North Carolina wasn't going to deviate from its coaching family, and Roy Williams makes perfect sense to continue the Dean Smith-Bill Guthridge lineage.

Williams was one of Dean Smith's brightest students of the game. Williams also was able to rejuvenate Kansas' tradition by implementing a Carolina system. And as long as Dean Smith has influence in Chapel Hill, UNC basketball isn't going to change.

Williams can carry on a similar system, continue the rich recruiting tradition and keep the Tar Heels at an elite level. Williams has established himself as one of the top names in college basketball, and North Carolina cannot have a coach who does not have a big name -- either in Carolina or nationally.

Recruiting starts July 8, and North Carolina faces a critical recruiting season. Brendan Haywood is entering his senior season and rising sophomore Joseph Forte could be one of the top early-entry candidates in the 2001 NBA draft.

Other candidates who probably were considered would have been South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler (a former UNC assistant), Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty (a former UNC player) and Philadelphia's Larry Brown.

"I think it's time to turn it over to somebody else," he said at a campus news conference.

Guthridge said a few weeks ago he planned to stay another five or six years despite intense criticism from fans and alumni after the team's worst regular-season record in decades.

Kansas coach Roy Williams, a former North Carolina assistant under Smith, said Friday that he has agreed to talk to UNC athletic director Dick Baddour, but said it is "completely false" that he has accepted the job. Asked if he had been formally offered the job, he said, "No."

"Basically I've just told them that I would talk to them, and that's it," Williams said at a news conference in Lawrence, Kan.

Guthridge said Friday he now knows how Smith felt in 1997 when he stepped down.

"You're just exhausted," he said.

Guthridge said he took a vacation in Europe in May, hoping to recharge, but wasn't able to.

"I'll really miss this next year's team and what those guys have done for me," said Guthridge, whose team last season reached the Final Four before being eliminated in the semifinals.

Smith, who attended Guthridge's retirement announcement, called the day a "celebration of a fantastic career. ... Certainly, what a marvelous run of three years."

Tar Heels forward Jason Capel said he and his teammates learned of Guthridge's decision at a team meeting Thursday.

"I was shocked," he said Friday. "It was very tough hearing it, and now it's finalized. It makes it harder."

"He'd kinda got a couple of words out and then get choked up," assistant coach Pat Sullivan, a former player from 1990-95, said of Thursday's emotional meeting.

Guthridge then handed each player a statement about his retirement because, "I couldn't read it."

In another move, Phil Ford, a star on Smith's 1974-78 teams, will move from his job as assistant coach to another position within the athletic department, a university source said.

Guthridge coached North Carolina to the Final Four in his first season before losing to Utah. He set NCAA records for most wins by a first-year head coach with 34, and for wins in his first two years with 58. The Tar Heels lost to Florida in last season's Final Four.

It was the 14th time Guthridge participated in the Final Four. He competed in one as a player at Kansas State in 1958, was an assistant coach at 11 before directing the Tar Heels at two as head coach.

Guthridge was criticized last season by alumni and fans for losing five games at home -- the most since World War II -- and for a record that dropped to 18-13 after a first-round defeat in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Bill Guthridge
Bill Guthridge took the Tar Heels to the Final Four twice in his three years as coach.

The death of Guthridge's mother, Betty, 96, two days before the Tar Heels played Tennessee at Knoxville in the NCAA South Regional semifinals also contributed to a difficult season.

The complaints turned to praise after the team's unlikely Final Four appearance.

"The guys worked hard and didn't lose confidence," Guthridge said after the season. "I really liked the attitude of the team, the way they worked hard and how they were rewarded finally. It didn't bother me that I was a 'lousy' coach, and when we started winning I was a 'better' coach. I was just happy that the team had success. I enjoyed my 30 years as an assistant coach, and I've enjoyed my three years as a head coach."

Heading into what would have been the fourth year of a five-year contract, Guthridge compiled an 80-28 record, but had not received an extension.

Smith wrote in his memoir, "A Coach's Life," that before he retired in 1997, he told recruits: "If I'm not coaching, I am confident that your coach will be either Bill Guthridge, Eddie Fogler, Roy Williams, Larry Brown, George Karl or Phil Ford, not necessarily in that order. It has to be one of those."

Smith said he and Guthridge would have a role in choosing the next head coach.

Former Tar Heel and Detroit Piston Eric Montross attended the news conference and said, "My gut is it will be someone in the Carolina family."

Baddour said at the start of Friday's news conference there would be no discussion of the next coach.

Williams said an announcement clarifying his situation will come "on or before July 7," the day before he goes on the road recruiting.

Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick believed "we have certainly a good chance to keep Coach Williams at University of Kansas. I don't want to put any odds on it."

"I know that he's really struggling with this decision, so based on that, I think we have a great chance," Frederick said.

Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway said the school was privileged to have Williams.

"Our hope and fervent desire is that the best basketball coach in America will continue to practice his craft at KU," he said Thursday night.

Williams' status still up in air after Kansas meeting

With Guthridge retiring, UNC quickly tabs Williams

Fogler stays mum about UNC rumors

Bilas: Guthridge thrived under difficult circumstances

Weekly Word: Not blue in Carolina

Ford wants to keep coaching at UNC

Roy Williams' coaching record, timeline

 Bill Guthridge resigns as the coach of the University of North Carolina.
RealVideo:  | 28.8

 Jay Bilas questions Dean Smith about Bill Guthridge's retirement, and the possible candidates to replace him
RealVideo:  | 28.8

 Bill Guthridge will miss being involved with his team.
wav: 163 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Dean Smith says Friday was a celebration for Bill Guthridge.
wav: 166 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Dick Baddour says North Carolina is grateful to Bill Guthridge.
wav: 104 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 ESPN's Jay Bilas talks about the timing of Guthridge's decision.
wav: 619 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 ESPN's Mark Schwarz and Andy Katz discuss the coaching situation at UNC.
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 ESPN's Jay Bilas reviews the possible UNC coaching candidates.
wav: 976 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Roy Williams wants it to be Bill Guthridge's day.
wav: 162 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Bill Guthridge says not even a vacation could restore his energy.
wav: 263 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Dick Baddour respects Guthridge's decision.
wav: 112 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6