Mike Fox Retires After 22 Years At UNC, Scott Forbes Named Successor
North Carolina on Friday announced Mike Fox has retired after 22 seasons as head coach of his alma mater. Associate head coach Scott Forbes, Fox’s longtime assistant, has been promoted to head coach.
Fox, 64, has led the Tar Heels since 1999. During his 22 seasons, he led UNC to the College World Series seven times, reached the CWS finals twice (2006, 2007) and won the ACC Tournament three times. He was named Baseball America's Coach of the Year in 2008.
Fox this year was the winningest active college baseball coach and concludes his career with 1,487 wins in 37 years as a head coach between UNC and North Carolina Wesleyan. He ranks seventh all-time in wins and his career .731 winning percentage ranks 15th.
In recent years, Fox had been rumored to be mulling retirement, but after leading the Tar Heels to Omaha in 2018 he signed a five-year contract extension, which ran through the 2023 season. But, like many others, the pandemic and its effects changed Fox’s perspective.
“Over the past five months I have come to realize more than ever the importance of family,” Fox said. “For the first time in almost 40 years, the time without coaching allowed me to truly experience family again.”
Fox built UNC into a national power. The Tar Heels missed the NCAA Tournament just three times under his guidance and advanced to the CWS four straight years from 2006-09, becoming the first ACC school to do so. They came up just shy of the national championship in both 2006 and 2007, losing in the finals to Oregon State both times.
Fox coached an impressive array of talent at UNC, including 2006 College Player of the Year Andrew Miller. The lefthander is one of 13 first-round picks to play for the Tar Heels under Mike Fox, a group that was added to in June when first baseman Aaron Sabato was selected 27th overall. UNC's player development was also evidenced by the 11 players who this year made Opening Day MLB rosters, the second most of any college.
Fox is the latest great college coach to reach retirement in recent years. Pat Casey, Augie Garrido, Skip Gillespie, Mark Marquess, Mike Martin and Jim Morris, all of whom won more than 1,000 games, have all retired in the last six years.
As that generation moves on, new coaches have risen to the forefront of college baseball. Now, Forbes, who played at NC Wesleyan for Fox and has spent the last 19 years on staff at UNC, will take over the Tar Heels. He has been groomed for this role, having served as recruiting coordinator and coached both the team’s pitchers and hitters during his career.
"For nearly two decades I've had the privilege of pouring my heart and soul into Tar Heel baseball,” Forbes said. “I'm so proud of what we've accomplished with Coach Fox and incredibly excited about our future."
Forbes is the fourth man who coached under Fox to become a head coach, joining Chad Holbrook (South Carolina, College of Charleston), Scott Jackson (Liberty) and Robert Woodard (Charlotte). His challenge is to keep the Tar Heels among the elite programs nationally and to win the program's first national championship. He said there will be no short cut for hard work in chasing those goals.
But after 19 years on staff at UNC, Forbes knows how to win in Chapel Hill as well as anyone except the man he is succeeding. Fox won like no one had ever done at UNC, leading the program to new heights over the last two decades.