Only 2 winning seasons, but 'we can do great things'
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Matt Doherty was hired as Florida Atlantic's basketball coach Monday, starting over two years after he resigned as coach of North Carolina.
Doherty, a former national coach of the year, replaces Sidney Green, who was fired last month after three consecutive losing seasons, including a 10-17 mark this year.
Doherty worked as a broadcaster and businessman after leaving coaching. He now joins a school in the Atlantic Sun Conference, a long way from the Tar Heels and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I've been to the top of the mountain," Doherty said. "The view's not always better from there."
At North Carolina, Doherty made $855,000 annually, led one of college basketball's storied programs and his teams played at home before more than 20,000 rabid fans who demanded excellence.
This time, he signed a seven-year deal with an annual base salary of $171,000 and inherits a program with only one NCAA Tournament berth. The 2004-05 team played seven home games before fewer than 500 fans. In 12 seasons at Division I, the Owls are a combined 102-234, with only two winning seasons.
"It wasn't about money. It wasn't about level," Doherty said. "If you have a passion for coaching basketball, you'll coach in front of 20,000 people or 2,000 people."
On April 20, Doherty hired former Kansas star and Valparaiso assistant Rex Walters as an assistant coach.
Doherty, who played with Michael Jordan at North Carolina, went 53-43 in three seasons as North Carolina's coach and was labeled an underachiever; Florida Atlantic has won only 65 games in the last eight seasons combined.
Florida Atlantic -- which has another high-profile coach, Howard Schnellenberger, leading its football program -- is the third coaching stop for the 43-year-old Doherty. He and Schnellenberger spoke last week by phone, and Doherty said the coach's recruiting speech left an impact.
"His commitment to this place meant a lot to me. His vision meant a lot to me," Doherty said. "And I think we can do great things here."
Florida Atlantic guard Tywain McTyer was among the players at Monday's news conference, and is excited to play for Doherty.
"He's a big name and clearly a great coach," he said. "And I think he brings our dream a lot closer."
After seven seasons as an assistant at Kansas under current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams -- who replaced Doherty in Chapel Hill -- Doherty went to Notre Dame for the 1999-00 season, going 22-15.
He took over the Tar Heels for the 2000-01 season. Doherty's first Carolina team went 26-7, was ranked No. 1 in the country late in the season and won a share of the ACC's regular-season title. All that helped earn him The Associated Press' coach of the year award.
But in 2001-02, his feuds with Carolina players becoming public, the Tar Heels went 8-20 -- the school's first losing season since 1962, Dean Smith's first at the school. A year later, North Carolina went 19-16, with freshmen like Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants, all Doherty recruits who played major roles for this year's national champions. Doherty resigned with three years left on his contract.
Florida Atlantic received more than 60 applications for the job, and the school interviewed about 22 candidates, athletic director Craig Angelos said.
"The best candidate was the last one we talked to," Angelos said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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