- Associated Press - Friday, December 9, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s board of trustees approved a 7-year contract for new football coach Larry Fedora on Friday, the final step in hiring Fedora away from Southern Mississippi as the permanent replacement for Butch Davis.

Trustees met for about 30 minutes Friday morning to approve the deal, which will pay more than $1.7 million annually. The deal includes several bonuses, including for winning a division or conference championship, reaching a BCS bowl and high graduation rates.

The deal also includes annual retention bonuses ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 beginning in 2015, as well as a one-time payment of $400,000 in the first year and an annual expense allowance of $30,000.

“I think we got the absolute perfect fit for us at this time,” athletic director Bubba Cunningham told trustees at the meeting.

The school has scheduled Fedora’s first news conference for Friday afternoon.

The school offered a longer contract because it has put itself on two years of probation in the aftermath of an NCAA investigation into the program. That probe into improper benefits and academic misconduct led to the firing of Davis shortly before training camp after the NCAA alleged nine violations, including that a former assistant coach had worked to steer players to sign with an NFL agent.

Defensive coordinator Everett Withers served as interim coach this season and will coach the Tar Heels (7-5) against Missouri in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26. Withers interviewed for the permanent job last week and Cunningham said he interviewed four people in the search.

Withers’ future with the program beyond the bowl game is uncertain. Whether he remains on the staff is a football question Fedora will have to address, Chancellor Holden Thorp said. Fedora said Thursday that it was too early to address staff questions.

Fedora, 49, has a 33-19 record in four years with Southern Miss. The 22nd-ranked Golden Eagles set a school-record with 11 wins and upset then-unbeaten Houston to win the Conference USA championship last weekend. Before coming to Southern Miss, Fedora was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and Florida.

Thorp said Fedora first arrived here Wednesday. After meeting with Thorp at the chancellor’s home, Fedora was confined to a car during his tour of campus to keep a low profile and avoid media scrutiny. Fedora returned to Southern Miss on Thursday to meet with players and coaches there, but he will coach the Golden Eagles in the Hawaii Bowl against Nevada on Dec. 24.

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