Now a days, college sports is a big business. I certainly have some qualms about who exactly makes the money from that business, but there’s no doubt that it is.
While they’ve been popular for a long time, TV money has seemingly been a big part of the expansion into what college sports is today with things like fancy facilities, specialized staff members, and more. However once upon a time in the very early days of college sports, not only did none of those things really exist, but people used to coach multiple teams.
This has come up in past North Carolina sports history posts here at Tar Heel Blog, but several people over the years have coached multiple teams while at the school. While most were in the first half of the 20th century, there is at least one recent one. Over the next two days, we’re going to go over some of the stories of some of the coaches that pulled double duty while in Chapel Hill.
I actually did a full post on Cartmell a few years ago, but it’s hard to start this list with anyone but him. Cartmell was UNC’s first ever men’s basketball coach. The former Olympic medal-winning sprinter had origially come to Chapel Hill to coach track when he was asked to help the newly formed basketball team. Despite not knowing much about the sport, he was the coach for the first four seasons in program history, putting up a 25-24 record. It is funny the the very beginning of the most famous program at the university was first coached by a track athlete with no basketball experience.
As mentioned, despite most of the coaches on this list being in the early years of college sports, there was one recent one, and it’s legendary soccer coach Anson Dorrance. His record as the coach of the women’s team is unparalleled, but he actually started as coach of the men’s team and was actually in charge of both at the same time for a point. Dorrance first took over the men’s team in 1977 and led them through the 1988 season. He led them to a winning season every year and two NCAA Tournaments. Back in 1979, he had also been placed in charge of the newly created women’s program. By the time 1988 came around, he had already led Carolina’s women’s team to six of the first seven NCAA Tournament championships and understandably ended up focusing on them.
William Ayres Reynolds
The initial years of UNC football featured either no head coach at all or a situation where a player from another school was brought in to basically teach the players some things. The first time they had they had any sort of coach for more than one season in a row was Reynolds from 1897-1900. He went 27-7-4 in those four seasons. However, the wasn’t the best winning percentage he had at the school. For two years in the middle of his football stint, he led the baseball program to a 21-5-1 record. Even more remarkable, he pulled the same double duty at Georgia after he left UNC.
James N. Ashmore
Over the course of his college career, Ashmore coached three different sports, including pulling triple duty at several stops. However, he was down to only two jobs when he came to UNC in 1926. While there were two seasons and two coaches in between, he was one of the coaches tasked with replacing Norman Shepherd after the 1924 Helms National Championship team. He had five solid seasons in Chapel Hill, but never quite matched what his predecessors did. Ashmore also led the baseball team for five seasons, finishing with a .645 winning percentage.
Tomorrow, we’ll tell four more stories of UNC coaches pulling double duty.