After 22 years, 948 wins and seven College World Series appearances as the head coach of the North Carolina baseball team, Mike Fox announced his retirement on Friday.
“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,” Fox wrote in a press release announcing his retirement. “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.”
Fox joined the Tar Heels as a player in 1976, appearing in the College World Series as a second baseman in his senior year of 1978. He spent 15 seasons at North Carolina Wesleyan College, where he led the team to a Division III World Series Championship in 1989. He coached the Battling Bishops until being hired by the Tar Heels before the 1999 season. At the time of his retirement, Fox was the winningest active coach in the country.
“Thank you for what you have done for this program. Absolutely outstanding,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said to Fox during a press conference on Friday. “Coming here as a student, being on the baseball team, going to the World Series, going off, having another incredible career, winning a national championship and coming back and leading the Tar Heels to seven World Series. What a phenomenal career professionally.”
Fox’s decision may come as a surprise to some, considering he signed a 5-year contract extension in 2018. However, Fox cited the long break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the primary reasons for his retirement. Finally able to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren, Fox said he realized not coaching would allow him to make up for the family time he missed during his career.