Entering his 15th season as head coach at the University of North Carolina, Mike Fox has guided his alma mater to the most successful period in school history and firmly established the Tar Heels as one of the nation's preeminent college baseball programs. Capped by five trips to the College World Series in the last seven years, Carolina has made 13 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and posted a 634-262-1 record in Fox's 14 seasons in Chapel Hill.
Fox, who ranks first among the game's active leaders in career winning percentage, has been recognized by several outlets as one of the nation's top coaches in recent years. Baseball America honored Fox as its national coach of the year in 2008, and Fox's peers - the American Baseball Coaches Association - selected him as the Atlantic Region Coach of the Year in three of the last four seasons.
Fox's leadership and vision were instrumental in the construction of the $25.6-million Boshamer Stadium, which opened in 2009 to rave reviews as one of the finest collegiate baseball facilities in the nation. The stadium underwent another updgrade this offseason with the installation of a state of the start video board.
One of only six men to play in and then coach his alma mater to the College World Series, Fox has led Carolina to 11 consecutive trips to postseason play for the first time in school history.
Fox has coached his teams to NCAA tourney play in 27 of his 29 seasons as a head coach, including a combined 13 trips to the NCAA Division I and Division III World Series. Fox, who has led Carolina to 13 College World Series victories over the last seven seasons, has either played or coached in all 15 CWS wins by the Tar Heels.
But just as important as the on-field success Fox has found at UNC is the type of program that he has built. On Feb. 28, 2007, while the Tar Heels were ranked No. 1 by Baseball America, they also claimed the top spot when USA Today re-ranked its preseason top 25 based on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR). Fox's players are regulars on the Atlantic Coast Conference's Academic Honor Roll, including 25 honorees over the last six seasons, and he has coached four ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III selections in the last seven years, including Adam Warren, who was an Academic All-America pick in 2009.
Fox became the 24th head coach in Carolina history on May 7, 1998, when Athletic Director Dick Baddour selected the former UNC player and North Carolina Wesleyan College head coach to lead the Tar Heels into the 21st century. Fox is just the third head coach in Chapel Hill since 1947.
Fox has set a high standard of success in his first 14 years on the job, averaging more than 45 wins per season and guiding the Tar Heels to 50 or more victories in four of the last seven seasons. Fox collected his 700th career college coaching victory in 2002, his 800th career win in 2005 and his 900th win in 2007. He reached the 1,000-win mark with a 10-3 victory over Gardner-Webb March 4, 2009 and notched his 1,100th win in 2011.
Overall, 62 Tar Heels to play for Fox over the past 14 years have been drafted by Major League Baseball organizations, including 10 first-round or supplemental selections: Levi Michael in 2011, Matt Harvey in 2010, Dustin Ackley and Alex White in 2009, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard in 2006, Russ Adams in 2002, Tyrell Godwin in 2000 and Mike Bynum and Kyle Snyder in 1999.
Twenty-eight of Fox's former Tar Heels were on professional rosters in 2012. The 2011 MLB season was a season of firsts for several of Fox's former players as five Tar Heels made their major league debuts. Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager debuted for the Seattle Mariners, while Andrew Carignan (Oakland Athletics), Tim Federowicz (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Alex White (Cleveland Indians) all played in the majors in 2011. In the past two years Carolina has had eight former players debut in the big leagues, three more than any school in the country.
Fox has coached 26 first-team All-ACC selections, including pitchers Kent Emanuel and Michael Morin last season. Tar Heels have earned 22 different All-America honors under Fox, including the most recent left-hander Kent Emanuel and right-hander Michael Morin in 2012.
Colin Moran became the fourth Tar Heel under Fox's tutelage to be named ACC Freshman of the Year as he joined Adam Greenberg (2000), Daniel Bard (2004) and Dustin Ackley (2007). Moran also joined Ackley as Baseball America's Freshman of the Year in 2011.
The Tar Heels advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th consecutive year under Fox in 2012 as the team earned its fifth top eight seed in the last six seasons.
The 2011 season saw the Tar Heels become the 13th school in NCAA history to appear in five College World Series in a six-year span. Carolina is just one of three teams in the ACC to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament 10 straight seasons. The 2011 Tar Heels racked up 51 wins on the back of first round draft pick Levi Michael and ACC Freshman of the Year Colin Moran.
Carolina became the first school in ACC history to make four straight trips to the College World Series in 2009. The Tar Heels featured Dustin Ackley who would finish as UNC's career leader in average, hits, runs and total bases. Ackley was the Tar Heels' top individual performer in 2009, as he posted an ACC-best .417 average and 22 home runs, while also adding 111 hits, 75 runs and 73 RBI. He was named Rivals.com National Player of the Year and became the first three-time All-America in school history.
Paced by the first All-America quartet in school history (Alex White, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Tim Fedroff), the Tar Heels went 54-14 and reached the College World Series for the third straight season in 2008, placing third. Despite not playing on campus with Boshamer Stadium under construction, Carolina hosted both NCAA regionals and super regionals in Cary and went 5-0 en route to yet another trip to Omaha. Following a series win at then-No. 1 Miami, the Tar Heels earned the first consensus No. 1 ranking in school history May 19. Chad Flack completed his career as Carolina's career leader in hits, games, at-bats and total bases in 2008.
After breaking through with a CWS runner-up finish in 2006, the Tar Heels matched that feat in 2007 despite losing a pair of first-round selections on the mound in Miller and Bard. Carolina won a school record and NCAA-best 57 games and brought home its second straight ACC Coastal Division title and first ACC tournament title since 1990 in the process. In Omaha, Carolina dropped its second game before winning three straight to reach the finals for the second straight season.
In 2006, the Tar Heels captured the ACC's Coastal Division title and reached the College World Series for the first time since 1989. Carolina won a then-school record 54 games, including a record 38 at home, and hosted its first NCAA Regional at Boshamer Stadium since 1983. The Tar Heels won their second regional under Fox and then captured the Tuscaloosa Super Regional in dramatic fashion to punch their fifth ticket to Omaha. There, Carolina won its first four games before falling to Oregon State in the championship series, two games to one.
Miller won Baseball America National Player of the Year honors and the Roger Clemens Award as the nation's top pitcher, and he joined Horton as an All-America selection. Senior Jonathan Hovis led the nation in ERA at 1.17, while Flack set Carolina's single-season hit record with 112.
From 2002-05, the Tar Heels won 40-plus games in each season and reached the NCAA Tournament every year. The 2003 squad was at its best in the postseason, sweeping through the NCAA Starkville Regional with a 3-0 record, including a pair of wins over host Mississippi State. The regional victory was the first for Carolina since the 1989 team reached the College World Series.
Carolina also earned top-10 national rankings in 2005 and in 2004 with a team that was led by All-Americas Marshall Hubbard and Chris Iannetta. Hubbard drove in a school-record 83 runs, while Iannetta, who made his major league debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2006, was one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, presented annually to nation's top collegiate catcher. In a record-setting 2000 season, Carolina posted a 46-17 mark, the second-most victories in a season in school history. Carolina earned the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Regional at Upper Montclair, N.J., and came just one win away from advancing to the NCAA Super Regional.
In his first year on the job, Fox led Carolina to a school-best 16 straight wins to open the 1999 season and, in the midst of going 22-2 to start the year, the Tar Heels peaked at No. 3 the Baseball America rankings. Carolina went on to earn the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament Palo Alto Regional.
Fox came to Carolina after 15 seasons as the head coach at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, where he led the Battling Bishops to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Division III College World Series appearances and the 1989 NCAA Division III national championship. His teams posted 15 consecutive top-20 finishes in the national polls and won 11 Dixie Conference championships.
Fox's career record of 539-141-4 at N.C. Wesleyan ranked second in career winning percentage (.791) among all active Division III head coaches at the time of his return to Carolina.
Fox was a three-year letterwinner at Carolina as a second baseman from 1976-78, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 1978 College World Series. As a senior, he hit .277, tied for the team lead with six home runs and was named to the College World Series all-tournament team. Fox also played on the Tar Heel junior varsity basketball team under Eddie Fogler in the 1975 and `76 seasons.
The 56-year old native of Asheville, N.C., is a 1978 graduate of Carolina with a degree in physical education. He earned his Master of Arts in teaching at UNC in 1979. Fox served as a graduate assistant at Carolina during the 1979 season and was the head coach at Millbrook High School in Raleigh in 1980 and `81 before taking over as N.C. Wesleyan's head coach in September of 1982. He also had served as the Battling Bishops' athletic director since 1985.
Fox was named the American Baseball Coaches Association Division III National Coach of the Year in 1989 after leading the Battling Bishops to the national title. He has been named the NCAA South Region Coach of the Year and the Dixie Conference Coach of the Year seven times each. He coached 29 All-Americas at N.C. Wesleyan and 92 percent of his players graduated.
The 1974 graduate of East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, N.C., played independent professional baseball for a year after graduating from Carolina before returning to his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1979.
Fox and his wife, Cheryl, have a son, Matthew (26), and a daughter, Morgan (23).
YEAR-BY-YEAR WITH MIKE FOX