Mike Fox has opted out as baseball coach at North Carolina.
The winningest active coach in Division I and the first to lead an ACC team to four straight College World Series appearances informed athletic director Bubba Cunningham of his intention to retire on Friday.
Pitching coach Scott Forbes will take over as Fox’s replacement.
Fox has been a college coach for 37 years, with the last 22 of those seasons coming at his alma mater UNC. He compiled a 1,487-547-5 record and a winning percentage of .731, finishing his career ranked seventh all-time in wins and 15th in winning percentage.
The Tar Heels have made seven trips to Omaha in all during his tenure.
“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,” said Fox, who won a Division III national championship at NC Wesleyan before returning to Chapel Hill. “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.”
Although Fox hasn’t been directly affected by COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic that wiped out most of what is now his final season at UNC had a direct influence on his decision to step away from the game.
“Over the past five months, I have come to realize more than ever the importance of family,” he said. “For the first time in almost 40 years, the time without coaching allowed me to truly experience family once again.
“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.”
Fox’s replacement Forbes has spent the past 20 seasons as an assistant at UNC. In addition to his current duties working with the Tar Heels’ pitchers, he has previously served as batting coach and recruiting coordinator.
A native of Sanford, he was recruited by Fox as a player at NC Wesleyan, where he set an NCAA Division III record with 27 doubles his senior season of 1997.
“The sign of a great leader also is building an outstanding staff,” Cunningham said. “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.”