College Basketball

Woody Durham, ‘Voice of the Tar Heels,’ no longer able to do public speaking

In an open letter to fans, longtime North Carolina play-by-play announcer Woody Durham, the “Voice of the Tar Heels,” has announced he will no longer be able to do speaking engagements.

In Durham’s letter, posted on, Durham reveals that he has a neurocognitive disorder that will prevent public speaking.

“Last winter, I was diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder, primary progressive aphasia, that affects my language expression,” Durham writes. “I can still enjoy the company of friends and traveling with my wife, Jean, but I am not able to address groups as I did in the past.”

Durham, who was the Tar Heels’ play-by-play announcer for 40 years and has been honored by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, retired in 2011. He referenced the irony of his diagnosis in the open letter.

“While learning of this diagnosis was a bit of a shock for Jean and me, and yes, quite an ironic one at that, it also brought a sense of relief to us in terms of understanding what was happening to me and how best to deal with it,” he writes.

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