Cunningham signs six-year contract

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News Release:


(Chapel Hill, N.C.— Nov. 17, 2017) – UNC-Chapel Hill Director of Athletics Lawrence R. (Bubba) Cunningham, whose leadership has continued to propel the success of the Tar Heels’ 28-team program in the classroom, in competition and in the community, has signed a new six-year contract, Chancellor Carol L. Folt announced.


Cunningham has been dedicated to the student-athlete experience since he became UNC’s director of athletics in 2011, and it has shown. With a mission to “educate and inspire through athletics,” he has included academic metrics in coaching contracts, launched a strategic plan that aligned the Department of Athletics’ priorities with those of the University, and helped develop and co-lead with the Provost the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group (now known as the Process Review Group), which rigorously reviews processes to promote academic success for student-athletes from the time they are recruited through the time they graduate.


He also established a degree completion program for Tar Heels who left school before graduation; initiated regular academic awards banquets; conceived The Rammys, an innovative end-of-year awards show that celebrates the success of student-athletes; and guided the addition of resources to promote the physical, mental and academic health and wellness of Carolina’s student-athletes.


In so doing, the Tar Heels’ grade point averages and Academic Progress Rates have steadily risen: Carolina student-athletes for the first time posted a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better for the last two years, and 16 teams scored a perfect 1000 APR in 2015-16. In addition, more than 300 Carolina student-athletes have made the ACC Academic Honor roll each of the past five years.


All while the Tar Heels have won nine national titles, made an additional 10 runner-up finishes – and logged more than 25,000 hours of community service — during Cunningham’s tenure.



“I deeply appreciate Bubba’s commitment, day-in and day-out, to our student-athletes, coaches and university,” Folt said. “He is a key member of my executive team, and his dedication to the student-athlete experience, both on and off the field, is just one example of why he is such an important leader in the field of college athletics and student success both at Carolina and in the United States.”



Also during Cunningham’s tenure:

  • The Tar Heels have finished in the top eight of the Directors Cup five times.
  • Twelve former Carolina student-athletes from six sports have graduated using Complete Carolina, a degree completion program officially established in 2014.
  • The Tar Heels have broken ground on a transformative array of athletics facilities projects – including a new football practice facility, lacrosse/soccer stadium, field hockey stadium and track and field complex. Those will be completed by the fall of 2018 and are part of a master plan for UNC’s athletic facilities.
  • The department launched a partnership with Disney to enhance customer service.

“Carolina Athletics’ mission is to educate and inspire through athletics, and I am honored and excited to continue to work each day with our talented student-athletes, dedicated coaches and staff, and committed University colleagues,’’ Cunningham said. “Thank you to Chancellor Folt, as well as to the Boards of Trustees and Board of Governors, for continuing to provide me with this incredible opportunity.”


Cunningham currently serves as the president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), sits on the board of LEAD1, and is his seventh year on the ACC television committee.


The new contract, which runs through June 30, 2023, was approved by Carolina’s Board of Trustees; a provision of the contract also was approved by the University System’s Board of Governors last week. The contract includes a base salary of $740,440.




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 322,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 165 countries. More than 175,000 live in North Carolina.


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