By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora is out after seven seasons.
The school announced the decision in a news release Sunday morning. That came less than a day after an overtime loss to rival North Carolina State that dropped the Tar Heels to 2-9 and concluded with a brawl between the teams in the end zone after the Wolfpack scored the winning touchdown.
Fedora’s exit completes a swift fall. The program won 11 games and an Atlantic Coast Conference division championship in 2015. UNC slipped to 8-5 the next season and then went 5-18 over the past two seasons marred by injuries, inexperienced players and close losses.
The move will cost UNC about $12 million owed on Fedora’s contract that runs through the 2022 season.
Fedora arrived in Chapel Hill before the 2012 season to take over a program at the end of an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct. He inherited a one-year postseason ban — which kept the Tar Heels out of the ACC championship game in his debut season — and scholarship reductions yet got the Tar Heels to two straight bowls before a breakout run in 2015 followed by an eight-win season in 2016.
Fedora was athletic director Bubba Cunningham’s first major hire with UNC.
“We appreciate all that Larry Fedora has done for us over the last seven years – coming to Carolina in the midst of an NCAA case and bringing stability to our football program when we most needed it,” Cunningham said in a statement. “Despite injuries, despite setbacks and hardships, Larry never made excuses. He focused his teams on overcoming adversity, and I deeply respect the way he persevered and led our program each day with integrity through some tough times.
“This was not an easy decision because of the deep affinity I have for Larry. It simply is time to take our football program in a new direction.”