Woody Durham retires after 40 years

Updated: April 20, 2011, 5:38 PM ET
Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina radio play-by-play announcer Woody Durham said the time is right for him to retire after 40 years of calling some of the biggest sports moments in school history.

Durham held a news conference Wednesday to discuss his retirement, which is effective at the end of June. Durham, who turns 70 in August, said he has no health problems and that he decided in December that the 2010-11 season would be his last.

Durham said he felt the quality of his broadcast presentations had begun to sag in the past year or so, prompting him to decide he wanted to call it a career on his own terms.

"I felt it kind of getting away from me a little bit," Durham said. "And so that's why I thought it's probably a good time to step aside."

Durham had been the "Voice of the Tar Heels" since 1971, calling more than 1,800 football and men's basketball games. That included four NCAA men's basketball championship victories -- the 1982 and 1993 titles under Dean Smith as well as the 2005 and 2009 titles under Roy Williams.

Williams and football coach Butch Davis attended the news conference, with Williams flying in from a recruiting trip -- his luggage was lost in transit -- before flying back out later in the afternoon.

Durham's tenure has spanned the college careers of some of the storied basketball program's biggest names, including Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Antawn Jamison and Tyler Hansbrough. He also called games during the football careers of Lawrence Taylor, Amos Lawrence and Julius Peppers, among others.

Durham worked with four men's basketball coaches, six football coaches and four athletic directors. He called 23 bowl games, 13 Final Fours and six basketball title games.

His retirement follows a year in which the football team won the Music City Bowl despite playing the entire season in the shadow of an NCAA investigation. The men's basketball team won an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title before falling a win short of the Final Four.

Durham grew up in Albemarle and began his broadcasting career at WZKY radio at age 16. He graduated from UNC in 1963 and also spent 19 years as a TV sportscaster in Greensboro and the Triangle area before joining Tar Heel Sports Marketing full-time in 1981.

He is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame as well as the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He also is a 13-time recipient of the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year award.

Durham's son, Wes, is the play-by-play voice for Georgia Tech and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. Wes Durham refused to say whether he would be a candidate to replace his father in Chapel Hill.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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