Mike Fox retires after 22 seasons as UNC’s head baseball coach
Scott Forbes named 25th head coach in UNC baseball history
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (UNC) – Mike Fox, the winningest active coach in Division I baseball and the first to lead an Atlantic Coast Conference team to four consecutive College World Series, is retiring after 22 seasons at the helm at the University of North Carolina and 37 years as a collegiate head coach.
UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham named Scott Forbes as the Tar Heels’ next head coach. Forbes, who will be the 25th head coach in Carolina Baseball history, just completed his 19th season on the UNC coaching staff. He becomes just the fifth head coach of the Tar Heel baseball program since 1931.
“From playing in the College World Series as a Tar Heel senior, to winning a Division III national championship at N.C. Wesleyan, to leading Carolina to Omaha seven times as the Tar Heels’ head coach, Mike’s impact on college baseball has been legendary,” says Cunningham. “He has connected generations of players and fans to Carolina baseball, and his commitment to his students in and out of the dugout is highlighted by the scores of players who have returned to Chapel Hill after professional careers to earn their degrees.”
“The sign of a great leader also is building an outstanding staff,” says Cunningham. “Scott Forbes is a talented recruiter, a strong communicator and has been instrumental in developing multiple facets of the program during his 20 years at Carolina. As head coach, he will continue to build on all that our baseball team has accomplished.”
Fox, a 1978 UNC graduate, concluded his 37-year head coaching career with a 1,487-547-5 record, a winning percentage of .731. He is seventh all-time in wins and 15th in winning percentage. He was No. 1 in wins and win percentage among active coaches in 2020.
“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,” says Fox. “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.”
“I came to Chapel Hill in the fall of 1974 as a true walk-on, eventually made the JV baseball and basketball teams, played in the College World Series and returned as head coach for 22 unforgettable seasons. The experiences I have been so fortunate to live out and the relationships I have made as a player and coach have gone way beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Those experiences have exceeded even my dreams to this very day.”
Fox became the head coach at his alma mater prior to the 1999 season. His Tar Heel teams went 948-406-1, won ACC championships in 2007, 2013 and 2018, and advanced to the College World Series in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2018. The 2006 and 2007 teams reached the championship round in Omaha.
He is the winningest coach in Carolina Baseball history and led UNC to seven of its 11 CWS appearances. The Asheville, N.C., native played in or was head coach in all 18 of UNC’s College World Series victories all-time.
“Over the past five months I have come to realize more than ever the importance of family,” says Fox. “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.”
“I am so very excited for Scott and his family,” adds Fox. “He is more than ready to be a head coach and will do an excellent job. I am very grateful to Bubba (Cunningham) for rewarding Scott’s loyalty, believing in his leadership abilities and keeping the consistency within the program.”
Baseball America’s 2008 National Coach of the Year, Fox was ACC Coach of the Year in 2018 and his peers selected him Atlantic Region Coach of the Year three times. The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducted him as a member in 2017.
Carolina averaged almost 45 wins per season (prior to the Covid-19 shortened season of 2020) and posted five 50-win seasons under Fox, setting a school-record 59 wins in 2013.
Major League Baseball teams drafted 105 of his Tar Heel players, including 15 first-round or supplemental round picks. Twenty-seven Tar Heels under his tutelage have played in the Major Leagues. He coached 37 first-team All-ACC selections and his players earned 32 All-America honors. Andrew Miller (2006) and Dustin Ackley (2009) won National Player of the Year honors; Ackley set the all-time record for base hits in College World Series history. Three players – Ackley (2006), Colin Moran (2011) and Aaron Sabato (2019) were named National Freshman of the Year. His players also won two ACC Player of the Year awards, four ACC Pitcher of the Year honors and six ACC Freshman of the Year awards.
His players set high standards in the classroom and the community. Forty of Fox’s players came back to earn their degree after playing professional baseball. He coached seven ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selections in the last 10 years, including Adam Warren, who was an Academic All-America in 2009, and Benton Moss, who in 2015 became the first UNC baseball player to earn first-team Academic All-America honors.
“UNC has been blessed with outstanding coaches and Mike is among those at the very top of the list,” says Dick Baddour, Carolina’s former athletic director who named Fox the head coach on May 7, 1998. “He is a dedicated Tar Heel with a strong commitment to excellence on and off the field. Every decision Mike made was in the context of what is best for UNC as well as his student athletes. He developed a first-class program that is respected and honored among the very best in the country.”
Fox spent 15 seasons as the head coach at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, where he led the Battling Bishops to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, eight trips to the Division III College World Series and the 1989 national championship. His teams posted 15 consecutive top-20 finishes and won 11 Dixie Conference championships. His record of 539-141-4 at Wesleyan ranked second in winning percentage (.791) among all active Division III head coaches.
“Coach Fox recruited me in 1993 at North Carolina Wesleyan and my life changed the day I stepped on campus,” says Forbes. “Playing, working and learning from him for more than 20 years has had a huge impact on my career and me as a person. I would not be the husband, dad or coach I am today without his influence. Coach Fox’s vision and leadership turned UNC baseball into a national power. I am going to miss being on the field with him. Words cannot express the gratitude my family and I have for Coach Fox and Mrs. Fox. I know he will enjoy the next chapter of his life and I wish his family all the best.”
Forbes will be entering his 24th season as a college head coach and 20th on the Tar Heel coaching staff. He has previously served as associate head coach, batting coach, pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue to represent the University of North Carolina as the next head coach of the baseball program,” says Forbes. “For nearly two decades I’ve had the privilege of pouring my heart and soul into Tar Heel baseball. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished with Coach Fox and incredibly excited about our future. “Every current and former player, coach, support staff member, and of course my family, have played a huge part in helping me reach this point in my career. Their support means the world to me. My entire family and I thank Chancellor Guskiewicz, Bubba Cunningham, Coach Fox, the Board of Trustees and all Tar Heels for this opportunity – we’ll make you proud.”
The Sanford, N.C., native began his coaching career with Fox in 1998 at N.C. Wesleyan. That followed a playing career at Middle Georgia College and Wesleyan. He was an assistant coach at UNC from 1999-2002 and at Winthrop from 2002-05. He returned to Chapel Hill in 2006 as pitching coach, a position he held through 2016. The 2021 season will be his 16th consecutive year on the Tar Heel staff.
Forbes has helped lead the Tar Heels to seven appearances in the College World Series, seven ACC division titles and three ACC Tournament titles.
Forbes has a record of 980-404 in 23 seasons in the dugout. Collegiate Baseball named him the National Pitching Coach of the Year in 2008, and Baseball America named him one of the country’s top assistant coaches in 2018. Under his direction, Carolina’s pitching staffs routinely finished in the top 50 in the country in ERA and UNC’s recruiting classes have consistently been among the nation’s best.
Forbes has been instrumental in developing all aspects of the program in his tenure. As pitching coach from 2006-16, he worked with pitchers who were selected 33 times in the Major League Baseball Draft, and earned eight All-America and 21 All-ACC honors, including nine first-team All-ACC honors.
Miller (2006), Alex White (2008) and Kent Emanuel (2013) won ACC Pitcher of the Year honors during his time as pitching coach and J.B. Bukauskas won the award in 2017.
Miller was named Baseball America’s National Player of the Year in 2006 and won the Roger Clemens Award as the top collegiate pitcher. Miller was the American League Championship Series MVP in 2016 and is a two-time MLB All-Star. Matt Harvey started the 2013 MLB All-Star Game for the New York Mets.
Forbes coached seven of the 10 winningest pitchers in UNC history and the top five in career strikeouts. Carolina’s All-America pitchers under Forbes include Miller (2006), Andrew Carignan (2007), White (2008), Brian Moran (2009), Patrick Johnson (2011), Emanuel (2012 and 2013) and Michael Morin (2012). Bukauskas also earned All-America honors in 2017.
Since being named the hitting instructor in 2017, Forbes worked with several Tar Heels who earned All-America honors, including Brian Miller and Logan Warmoth in 2017, Kyle Datres in 2018 and Aaron Sabato in 2019. Michael Busch was the ACC Tournament MVP and a first-round draft pick in 2019, Warmoth was a first-round pick in 2017 and Sabato was selected in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins.
As a collegiate player, Forbes hit .321 at Wesleyan from 1995-97 and led the team to a pair of Dixie Conference titles and a fifth-place finish at the 1997 Division III CWS. As a senior, he hit .387 with 61 RBI and 27 doubles, which set the NCAA Division III single-season record. He earned second-team all-region honors and was team MVP and MVP of the Dixie Conference Tournament.
Forbes earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Wesleyan in 1998. He is married to the former Mandy Passwaters, and the couple has two daughters, Hannah and Ally.
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