Armstrong: UNC's Fox saw life after baseball, and he liked it

Mark Armstrong Image
Friday, August 7, 2020
UNC baseball coach's pandemic-induced 'practice retirement' led to decision to step away
Mike Fox is looking forward to spending more time with family.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Retirement wasn't in the cards for Mike Fox at the end of last season. It was the pandemic that brought life after baseball into reality.

"I got to experience life without it and I guess somewhat have a "practice retirement" if you will and found that I enjoyed it," Fox said. "Being able to spend time with my grandchildren and my children is truly special and I look forward to doing that."

Family comes first, Fox said repeatedly Friday. For the last 37 years as a coach, Fox's family had lived around the rhythm of baseball. Now he gets to live at their tempo.

"Very difficult to do in this profession," he said. "This is not a very family-friendly profession just because of the nature of it."

His resume at North Carolina is immense: 22 seasons, nearly 1,000 wins, three ACC titles and seven trips to Omaha. The lone hole -- an ever-elusive national title. Still, Fox leaves with no regrets.

"Special moments with kids. That's what I'm going to miss is that excitement and certainly those dog piles, you know celebrations in the locker room," Fox said. "I think any coach would tell you that. I really tried to truly enjoy each and every day and make every day special."

His replacement is Scott Forbes, his right-hand man of the last 23 years. Fox 2.0 is what they're hoping for at UNC.

"There's no replacing hard work and communication and, you know, we're just going to do the same thing we've been doing. Obviously the program is the program." Forbes said Friday.

For Fox, it's time for life in the slow lane.

"You just have to slow down sometimes," he said. "You've got to, you do have to smell the roses. Maybe don't take yourself too seriously. It's still supposed to be fun."