Withers ready to lead UNC

Published 6:15 pm Friday, July 29, 2011

CHAPEL HILL — Everett Withers said he’s both excited to get started as North Carolina’s interim coach and sad to take over after the firing of Butch Davis.
Withers had spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator under Davis, but now finds himself inheriting a troubled program in the middle of an NCAA investigation and only a week away from the start of preseason practice.
“I told our assistant coaches this morning that I want to have fun,” Withers said at a news conference on Friday. “I don’t want to stress. Our kids deserve an experience that’s fun for them. Last summer wasn’t a whole lot of fun for them. I want them to have some fun. We’re going to have a good time, but we’re going to work hard.”
Withers said he has spoken to about 40 players and that they are excited to get back to football.
“We firmly believe that he has the ability to stabilize this team and rally the players around each other,” athletic director Dick Baddour said.
The school fired Davis on Wednesday, with chancellor Holden Thorp citing the cumulative damage done to the university’s reputation over the past year. Baddour will also step down in the coming months to allow a new athletic director to hire the new coach.
The NCAA has reported nine potential major violations in its notice of allegations to the school. In all, 14 players missed at least one game and seven were missed all of last season amid the probe into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the program.
Associate head coach Sam Pittman, who said he also interviewed for the interim job, said the players will respond the way their coaches do in the aftermath of the sudden coaching change.
Withers said linebackers coach Art Kaufman will serve as defensive coordinator this season.