Colleges

Legendary ACC football coach Bill Dooley passes away at 82

Posted August 9, 2016
Updated August 10, 2016

Former University of North Carolina head football coach Bill Dooley died Tuesday at his home in Wilmington. He was 82.

The Dooley family released a statement saying, “Coach Bill Dooley passed away this morning. He will be missed by his family and friends and will be remembered by all of us whose lives he has touched so deeply,”

Dooley coached the Tar Heels from 1967-77, compiling record of 69-53-2. Dooley also lead North Carolina to three ACC championships and three bowl victories. He was the all-time winningest coach in UNC history until Dick Crum passed him in 1987.

“I was recruited by Coach Bill Dooley out of Garden City High School in New York," said 1969 and 1970 ACC Player of the Year Don McCauley. "The main reason I chose UNC was my belief in Coach Dooley and the fact that he and his staff had dedicated themselves to putting UNC on the football map. Coach Dooley brought the SEC mentality to the ACC."

Current North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora described Dooley as someone that has touched all of college football, not just UNC.

“He touched the lives of the young men who played for him in a profound and special way,” Fedora said. “He proved that Carolina was a program that could produce a winning tradition and his legacy is something we strive to uphold each and every day. Our thoughts are with Marie and the entire Dooley family in this very difficult time.”

Dooley is credited with raising the level of play across the ACC during his time at UNC.

"Coach Dooley helped change the course of college football. He reversed the trend at UNC where he built a winner,” said former UNC head coach John Bunting. “The ACC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest all benefited from his great leadership. But most importantly, he mentored character development to thousands of young men."

Dooley left UNC in 1978 to become the head football coach and athletics director at Virginia Tech. He also went on to coach at Wake Forest for six seasons, retiring in 1992. He finished his career with a combined 161 wins.

“If the mark of a coach is to make a difference at his school and in the lives of his players, then Bill Dooley touched us all," said Mack Brown, UNC head football coach from 1988-97. "He won a lot of games and ACC championships and led the Tar Heels into post season bowl games.  He understood kids, and valued the game. He knew the fine line between a ‘come here’ hug and a ‘sic 'em’ attitude. He never hesitated to share his knowledge and insight with those of us who followed."

Dooley is survived by his wife, Marie, and four sons and two grandchildren.

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