Local News

Doherty Says Baddour, UNC Mishandled His Departure

Posted April 4, 2003

— Matt Doherty said Thursday that University of North Carolina athletic department officials never met with him to discuss problems with his coaching style before he was asked to resign as the school's basketball coach.

"(Athletic director) Dick Baddour is a good person," Doherty said on ESPN in his first interview since resigning Tuesday. "I like Dick Baddour. I think it's just more the handling, the process that I'm disappointed in, quite frankly. I didn't feel like all the options were exhausted."

Doherty said neither Baddour nor his assistants attended any UNC practices during the season and that they did not meet with any assistant coaches.

Before meeting with Doherty last weekend to discuss Doherty's future, Baddour met with the team's players, individually as well as in a group session, to hear concerns they had about Doherty's leadership.

A school spokesman denied Doherty's claims that Baddour never attended a practice, saying that Baddour attended several practices and considered interviewing the assistant coaches but decided that doing so may lead some to question their loyalty to Doherty.

"That's what the whole last year was about, us working together to get these issues settled that came up in the second year," UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner said, referring to players' complaints about Doherty's intense demeanor.

Doherty said he was told Saturday that he would have to resign or be fired by early this week.

"I was blown away," he said. "That was one of the lowest moments of my professional life to have that presented to me."

The possibility that players would leave if he remained played a major factor, Doherty said.

"The main concerns were that if I stayed, players would transfer," he said, "that if I stayed, they felt that players might turn pro before they would be ready to go. Like that's not an issue throughout the country, anyway.

"Kids go pro before they're ready all the time."

Doherty said he didn't know of any players who planned to leave if he had remained.

Kirschner said the possibility of players transferring played a role in Doherty's departure but wasn't the main reason the coach lost his job.

Doherty, who played alongside Michael Jordan on the Tar Heels' 1982 national championship team, said he wanted to bring some of his intensity to a program that long enjoyed success under Dean Smith's calm guidance.

"I'm a pretty fiery, passionate, hard-driving guy," Doherty said. "That's the way I played. I had to because I was slow, and I couldn't jump. I was an overachiever.

"I wanted to come in and inject the team, the program with high energy, intensity ... and that was probably too much."

Doherty said he had adopted a calmer style since his first year at UNC, when he was named The Associated Press national coach of the year.

At one point during that season, he left practice and scattered chairs in a hallway near the practice court, according to him, to motivate players. He said he was out of view of the players and about 40 to 50 feet from the court.

"I did improve," Doherty said. "I'm not perfect."

Doherty said he will continue to root for North Carolina and will be satisfied if the Tar Heels do well next year.

"They're going to be good next year whether you coach them or I coached them," he told ESPN's Jay Bilas.

Doherty resigned with three years left on his contract and collected a severance package of $337,500. Officials have said that if Doherty had chosen to be fired, he could have received more than $500,000.


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