Peppers, a star defensive end on the UNC football team and valuable reserve for the men's basketball team, released a statement saying he would return to the University for one more year. Peppers redshirted in 1998 and is classified as a junior academically.
"I'm happy going to school and being a Tar Heel, and this is where I want to be for one more year," Peppers said. "I want to take care of things on the basketball court with Coach (Matt) Doherty and help us win some more games. Then I will get ready to do the same for our football team in the fall."
Peppers, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 270 pounds, has averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in six games with the basketball team. During the football season, he led the country with 15 sacks and had 24 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Peppers said in the week leading up to the Tar Heels' game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 4 that he would return to school. But after Carl Torbush was fired on Nov. 20, Peppers hedged on his decision. New coach John Bunting's decision not to retain defensive ends coach Donnie Thompson also fueled speculation that Peppers would bolt for greener pastures in the NFL.
Peppers said that he needs another year to prepare for the NFL and improve his standing in the draft. He also said he and his mother feel it is important that he move closer to graduating.
Peppers doesn't want to make Bunting's first season as coach any more difficult, either.
"I want to help Coach Bunting get off to a good start at North Carolina," Peppers said.
Bunting said he hasn't had a face-to-face conversation with Peppers in the last three weeks. But he said the members of UNC's academic support staff did an effective job relaying his thoughts to Peppers.
"I am thrilled that he will be with us," Bunting said. "I think it's great for our team. I think it's good for our program, and I think it's good for Julius, as well."
The Sports Editor can be reached at
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.