North Carolina plans to announce Larry Fedora as its new football coach after a deal to hire the Southern Mississippi coach was finalized Wednesday, two sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to the Charlotte Observer.The UNC Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today to formally discuss the hiring of Fedora, 49, who has coached Southern Mississippi for the past four years.
Fedora, who led Southern Mississippi to an 11-2 record and a berth in the Hawaii Bowl this season, had emerged as the leading candidate at North Carolina, though he was reportedly being pursued by other schools, including Texas A&M and Kansas.
A third university source close to the situation confirmed that the university's board of trustees was meeting today to discuss Fedora. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the university has not authorized anyone to comment publicly about its football coaching search. Fedora emerged Tuesday as the leading candidate to become North Carolina's 35th head football coach.
Media speculation persisted Wednesday that Fedora had agreed to a contract, but it won't become official until approval from the university's board of trustees and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
In addition to the trustees meeting this morning at the Carolina Inn, the UNC Board of Governors is scheduled to meet today at 3 p.m. at the Spangler Center. The majority of both meetings will be held behind closed doors, according to university releases.
The board of trustees will meet again Friday at 9 a.m. and "is expected to take action in open session," according to a statement released by the university.
According to the UNC Board of Governors' online policy manual, the board must approve "all terms and conditions" of a head coach's contract before it becomes valid.
The board's policies mandate that all contracts include provisions that comply with the principles of "academic values" and "compliance with NCAA rules."
If approved, Fedora would succeed Everett Withers, the Tar Heels' former defensive coordinator who was named interim head coach after Butch Davis was fired before the start of preseason practice.
The university dismissed Davis amid an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud within the football program.
Fedora's track record
Under Fedora, Southern Mississippi's graduation success rate ranked third in Conference USA during the 2010-11 academic year, and second during the 2009-10 academic year. His teams succeeded on the field, too.
Fedora became coach at Southern Miss before the 2008 season, after serving as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and Florida. He coached the Golden Eagles to consecutive 7-6 finishes in 2008 and '09, and then an 8-5 finish in 2010.
Southern Miss won the Conference USA title last weekend with a victory against Houston, which was undefeated and ranked seventh in the country at the time.
The No. 22 Golden Eagles (11-2) will play Nevada on Dec. 24 in the Hawaii Bowl.
Reached Wednesday night on his cell phone, Withers said he had no comment about the trustees' meeting to discuss Fedora's hiring.
Several high-ranking university officials either declined comment throughout the day or did not return messages amid various reports that Fedora would soon become coach.
According to USA Today's database of college football coaching salaries, Fedora receives an annual salary of $704,500, with a possible bonus of $387,500.