Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli announced the hiring Monday.
McGrath has spent 18 years with coach Roy Williams, including the last 14 with the Tar Heels. They were playing Gonzaga on Monday night in the national championship game, and UNCW says McGrath will take over the Seahawks the next day.
Sartarelli says McGrath "has been an integral part of North Carolina's winning tradition."
McGrath replaces Kevin Keatts, who led the Seahawks to two straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament berths before he was hired last month at North Carolina State .
McGrath takes over a program that's in much better shape than it was when Keatts arrived. UNC Wilmington went 9-23 and finished in last in the CAA the year before Keatts' hiring, but he guided them to at least a share of three straight CAA regular-season championships and took the Seahawks to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in Year 1. UNC Wilmington lost to Duke and Virginia in the past two NCAA Tournaments.
Soon to be UNCW head coach. B McGrath scouting the Ducks pic.twitter.com/gtR8XZnXQ3— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) March 31, 2017
Athletic director Jimmy Bass said the school "conducted a thorough search for someone who would continue the successful style and championship culture that we have instilled here."
McGrath's history with the high-scoring Tar Heels seems to mesh well with the uptempo style implemented by Keatts. UNC Wilmington this season ranked 12th in scoring (84.8 points), was 10th with 336 made 3-pointers and was sixth in turnover margin at plus-4.1.
"Ever since I began visiting the Wilmington area, UNCW has always been a dream job for me," McGrath said in a statement. "I've been following the program for some time. It's on the upswing, and we want to move it forward from there. I'm looking forward to the challenge and using what was accomplished the past two years as a springboard for the future."
McGrath, a former walk-on at Kansas who became a team captain in 1997-98, was on the Jayhawks' staff for four years before following Williams to North Carolina in 2003.
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