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Doherty on ultimatum: 'I was blown away'

Associated Press

Matt Doherty said North Carolina athletic department officials never met with him to discuss problems with his coaching style before Doherty was asked to resign as the school's basketball coach.

Doherty's Departure Irks MJ
Michael Jordan criticized his alma mater on Thursday, saying North Carolina shouldn't have forced coach Matt Doherty to resign.

"I'm very disappointed,'' Jordan said, commenting after his Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 91-89. "I don't think it was handled properly. There's no way that 18- and 19-year-old kids need to be dictating a situation for the coach.''

Remembering his days at North Carolina, Jordan said the school should have sided with the coach instead of malcontent players.

"Kids get yelled at. I was yelled at, and there were times when I probably felt like I wanted to go home,'' he said. "But I'm a firm believer that 18-year-old kids shouldn't be able to determine a coach's future.''

Three players transferred last season and others talked about leaving this year.

Jordan was among the influential North Carolina alumni who pushed for Doherty to get the Tar Heels' job three years ago, following the retirement of Bill Guthridge, Dean Smith's successor.

"We begged him, basically, to come down and take the job and I didn't think they treated him properly,'' Jordan said. "I hope this experience doesn't keep him from getting another job.''
-- The Associated Press

"(Athletics director) Dick Baddour is a good person. I like Dick Baddour. I think it's just more the handling, the process that I'm disappointed in quite frankly,'' Doherty said Thursday in an interview with ESPN's Jay Bilas, his first since resigning two days before. "I didn't feel like all the options were exhausted.''

Neither Baddour nor his assistants attended any UNC practices during the season, Doherty said, and they did not meet with any assistant coaches.

A school spokesman denied Doherty's claims. He said Baddour did attend several practices, and had considered interviewing the assistant coaches, but decided that doing so may lead some to question their loyalty to Doherty.

"That's what the whole last year was about, us working together to get these issues settled that came up in the second year,'' UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner said, referring to players' complaints about Doherty's intense demeanor.

Doherty said he was told Saturday that he would have to resign or be fired by early this week.

"I was blown away,'' he said. "That was one of the lowest moments of my professional life to have that presented to me.''

The possibility that players would leave if he remained played a major factor, Doherty said.

"The main concerns were that if I stayed players would transfer, that if I stayed they felt that players might turn pro before they would be ready to go. Like that's not an issue throughout the country anyway,'' Doherty said.

"Kids go pro before they're ready all the time.''

Doherty said he didn't know of any players who planned to leave if he had remained.

Kirschner said the possibility of players transferring played a role in Doherty's departure, but wasn't the main reason the coach lost his job.

Doherty, who played alongside Michael Jordan on the Tar Heels' 1982 national championship team, said he wanted to bring some of his intensity to a program that long enjoyed success under Dean Smith's calm guidance.

"I'm a pretty fiery, passionate, hard-driving guy. That's the way I played. I had to because I was slow and I couldn't jump. I was an overachiever.

"I wanted to come in and inject the team, the program, with high energy, intensity ... and that was probably too much.''

Doherty said he had adopted a calmer style since his first year at UNC, when he was named The Associated Press national coach of the year.

At one point during that season, he left practice and scattered chairs in a hallway near the practice court to motivate players. He was out of view of the players and about 40 to 50 feet from the court, he said.

"I did improve. I'm not perfect,'' Doherty said.

Doherty said he will continue to root for North Carolina and will be satisfied if they do well next year.

"They're going to be good next year whether you coach them or I coached them,'' he said.

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