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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Wrestling Coach To Retire Next Year

North Carolina's Bill Lam will retire after next season, which will be his 30th year as coach of the Tar Heels.

Next year will be Lam's 30th as the Tar Heels' head coach. Lam, who turns 60 on May 18, has a 367-126-4 dual-match record, including a 132-34-1 mark in ACC competition.

"I want to express how grateful I am for the opportunity I have had to coach at this great University," Lam stated in a press release. "When I came here 30 years ago, I intended to stay for one or two years and head back to Big 8 country or a more traditional wrestling community.

"But I fell in love with the University and the people. The administration has taken such good care of me that I never wanted to leave. But it's time. I've done it.

"The commitments to go out recruiting and teaching on the mats each day in the room necessitate a younger person take the program to a higher level. I believe we have a strong foundation in place for that to happen again."

Lam announced his decision to his team Sunday when he called an impromptu team meeting at weightlifting practice, said UNC freshman Chris Rodrigues.

Rodrigues said he wasn't surprised by Lam's announcement.

"When he recruited me, he told me he wouldn't be here for all four of my years," he said. "I heard some things about him waiting for his 30-year pension. And since last year was number 29, it was no surprise to me that he made his decision."

Rodrigues said assistant coach C.D. Mock would be interviewing for the head-coaching job, but that he didn't know if Mock had the inside track to the position.

Lam, who said in the statement that he wanted to announce his retirement a year in advance "so we could make next year a true celebration of Carolina wrestling," led the Tar Heels to five top-10 national finishes.

He also has coached 36 All-Americans, 88 ACC champions and five NCAA champions.

"People laughed at me when I said North Carolina wrestling would become a nationally competitive program, and that year we proved we belonged," Lam said in the release.

Lam took over the North Carolina wrestling program in 1973-74. Prior to his arrival, the Tar Heels had never won an ACC championship and had only two winning seasons in 25 years.

"Bill Lam put North Carolina wrestling on the map, and I mean on the high school as well as collegiate level," said Director of Athletics Dick Baddour in the release. "He has earned the right to be called one of the best coaches in the history of the ACC.

"He will be difficult to replace."

Lam has won more overall dual meets and more ACC dual meets than any other coach in league history.

"Because of Coach Lam, Carolina wrestling has always been one large family," said Doug Wyland, a two-time ACC champion and national runner-up in 1989, in the release. "And he's the patriarch of that family."

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