Which Gets Upgrades First, Soccer Or Basketball?

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says Fetzer Field is Carolina’s athletic facility most in need of upgrades, but money will likely be the deciding factor when it comes down to which programs see improvement first.

“Basketball is such a primary revenue driver for the department, it’s hard to not think about basketball as a way to potentially pay for additional projects,” Cunningham says. “We’re doing them in tandem, but the one I’d like to complete first would be soccer.”

Fetzer Field is the home of the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, six track programs, and the men’s and women’s soccer teams. The facility was constructed in 1935 and saw renovations in 1988-90.

The women’s soccer team is by far the most successful Division I program as it has won 22 national titles in the sport’s 34-year history. The Tar Heels are one win away from going back to the College Cup in search of defending their national title.

The Dean E. Smith Center opened January 18, 1986 and has since seen two expansions—one in 1992 and another in 2000. Its current capacity is just less than 22,000.

Cunningham says there are still more questions than answers about what to do with the Smith Center: renovate or rebuild.

“When you begin the discussion of enhancing an existing facility—particularly a building that’s almost 30 years old—at some point, the efficiency of renovation is surpassed by a new building,” Cunningham says. “So, I think we need to look at both. It’s just too early to tell which of those potential options becomes more appealing over time.”

In March, Cunningham told WCHL that changes to the UNC basketball facility were years away and that the discussions were just beginning. Not much has changed in the eight months since word first broke that changes were coming. And, he says he wants to take the next 12 months to get the answers to what route UNC Athletics should take.

Many of the lower-level seats are reserved for season ticket holders and lifetime seat holders. Those lifetime seat holders are already major contributors to the athletic department financially and ones that could greatly benefit a new venue. But, are the Dean Dome lifetime seat holders guaranteed seats in a potential new facility?

“It’s a great question,” Cunningham says. “That is something that we have to take a look at: what are the obligations that the institution has to the donors, and what obligation do we have to new donors? So, that becomes a very significant question and challenge that we will hope to get some answers to over the next 12 months.”

If renovations are the plan of attack in the 27-year-old facility, Cunningham says one addition could be to add a type of luxury suite or club box much like the Blue Zone at Kenan Stadium.

“The suite rights for suites and club seats more than pays for the debt service,” Cunningham says. “In fact, it turns a little bit of revenue back to the general fund for the department. So, if we took that model and applied it to basketball, is there a way to create premium seating that would cover the cost of construction and then increase revenue for the department that would help us fund our other sports.”

Cunningham says that would take some revenue away from individual seats, but may offer the option to gain revenue from the space the seats took up by increased value that square footage would then have.

Cunningham says the bottom line is that no decisions are being made right now but that the athletic department is going to make sure that it can continue to recruit top players, coaches, and contributors.

“How do we preserve one of the best basketball programs in the country and put it in a facility that will continue to attract players and coaches,” Cunningham says. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to sort through what is appropriate right now.”


UNC Well Represented At 2013 ESPYS

LOS ANGELES – In the annual ESPYS Awards show on ESPN Wednesday night, UNC was the only school in the country with two nominees (two of the four as a matter of fact) for an ESPY as Best Female College Athlete of the year.

Kara Cannizzaro of the Tar Heel lacrosse team and Crystal Dunn, of women’s soccer, each led their teams to the national championships in their respective sports.

The winner was Brittney Griner, of Baylor basketball, who led her team to the 2012 National Championship.

The winners are chosen in a vote of fans and announced in an Oscar-like ESPN telecast from Los Angeles.


Tar Heels Dunn, Cannizzaro Nominees for ESPY Award

CHAPEL HILL– UNC student-athletes Crystal Dunn and Kara Cannizzaro will be going head-to-head as both were nominated for the ESPY Award for Best Female College Athlete.

Both ladies are expected to attend the ceremony at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Dunn guided the dynastic Tar Heel women’s soccer team to yet another national title in the 2012 NCAA Women’s College Cup. She took it to another level in the postseason, scoring goals in the first four games of the tournament and assisting on goals in both College Cup games, including the game-winner against Stanford.

Named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Cannizzaro also won the Honda Award for women’s lacrosse. The leader of the UNC national championship winning squad, Cannizzaro had four goals in the national semifinals and four goals and two assists in the title game.

Tar Heel fans can help these two star UNC athletes win the award by voting online at ESPN.com/espys.

The 2013 ESPYS show can be seen live on ESPN Wednesday, July 17, at 9 p.m. ET.


North Carolina Finishes 8th Again In Directors’ Cup

CLEVELAND – North Carolina’s eighth place finish in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup is the highest finish among ACC schools—a feet which Carolina has accomplished for the 15th time in 20 years. It is also the second year in a row in which the Tar Heels have finished in eighth.

The Directors’ Cup measures each school’s performance in NCAA post-season competition.

The Tar Heels got a big boost from their women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse programs which each got 100 points for their national championships.

UNC Field Hockey finished the season second for 90 points, baseball finished third for 83 points, men’s soccer and women’s tennis both finished fifth for 73 points, and men’s lacrosse got a fifth-place finish for 60 points.

Stanford once again took the Cup for the 19th-straight time. However, second-place Florida was only 16.5 points behind.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse Named Team Of The Year

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC women’s lacrosse team didn’t just win its first national championship, but according to Inside Lacrosse, it is also the 2013 Team of the Year.

Head Coach Jenny Levy was named National Coach of the Year by Inside Lacrosse and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA). Tar Heel senior star, Kara Cannizzaro was a finalist for the Tewaaraton award, which is one of the awards that recognizes the top player of the year. She won the Honda Sports Award, which also recognizes a national player of the year.

Carolina lost its season opener to Florida 5-3. It followed that loss with 11 straight wins, including an overtime victory against Duke. The Tar Heels then dropped their first conference game to national runner-up Maryland, 14-13. After another meeting with Maryland in the ACC title game which resulted in a 12-8 loss for Carolina, the Tar Heels weren’t going to allow another defeat at the hands of the Terrapins.

After relatively easy contests in the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, UNC and Maryland met again for the national championship game. Carolina took the victory in a 13-12 triple overtime contest.

The Tar Heels lose Cannizzaro, but aside from two other seniors, return most of their major playmakers. Inside Lacrosse writer, Danielle Bernstein, says, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels repeat in 2014.”


Jenny Levy Awarded Second Coach Of The Year Honor

CHAPEL HILL – UNC women’s lacrosse head coach Jenny Levy is once again the national coach of the year, according to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA).

This award adds to the coach of the year award Levy received from Inside Lacrosse. She led the Tar Heels to their first National Title and captured the crown in a thrilling triple-overtime, 13-12 sudden-victory win over what the polls deemed as the best team in the land, Maryland.

Levy is the fourth coach to win an NCAA championship as both a player and a head coach. She has the sixth-most wins in NCAA women’s lacrosse history.

Levy also led the team to its best record of wins in school history (18) with just three losses in the campaign.


Levy Named National Coach Of The Year

CHAPEL HILL - North Carolina’s Jenny Levy was named the 2013 National Coach of the Year by Inside Lacrosse, the magazine announced on Friday.  The Tar Heel head coach led Carolina to its first women’s lacrosse NCAA championship this spring, taking the award in Inside Lacrosse’s Dani Awards, its annual postseason awards.

It’s the first national coach-of-the-year honor in Levy’s 18-year head coaching career in Chapel Hill.  Carolina took home the NCAA championship in Villanova, Pa., in late May, posting wins over defending champion Northwestern in the semifinals and previously undefeated Maryland in the title game.

Inside Lacrosse’s Danielle Bernstein was quick to praise Levy’s staff, writing, “I think this should go to the whole team of coaches at North Carolina – Katrina Dowd’s work with the offense and Phil Barnes’ work with the defense was exceptional.”

The writer continued, praising Levy while writing about a conversation she had with the Tar Heel coach after the national championship game, “I’m paraphrasing, but she said that while she’s responsible for some big-picture sort of things, she essentially puts full trust and responsibility in the hands of her assistants, that she doesn’t have an ego – and it’s essentially this philosophy that has proved successful.

“I think there’s a lot to be said for a coach who brings in a top-notch staff and can take input and ideas and use it for the overall betterment of the team. And that’s why Jenny Levy is the 2013 Coach of the Year.”

To read the full Inside Lacrosse article, click here.


Coach Jenny Levy On WLAX Title: “It’s Been A Great Journey”

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC women’s lacrosse team returned to town in triumph on Monday after winning its first-ever NCAA title with a dramatic triple-overtime victory over Maryland.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck caught up with head coach Jenny Levy on Tuesday.

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AARON KECK: First of all, congratulations. This is a generic question–but what are you feeling right now?

JENNY LEVY: We–you know, it’s been a great journey this season, and to cap it off with winning a national title for our program–my players (have been) just outrageous this past weekend. I will always remember how tough and relentless and fearless and resilient they were–and to grab the first national championship for our program, it just–as a coach, I sat back and I was just in complete awe. And then we rewatched the game (Monday) night as a staff–and there were so many moments that I missed, but–it’s a great feeling. It’s rewarding to finally bring home a championship to Chapel Hill. It’s something we’ve worked for for a long time and have been very diligent in our quest–so I feel good. I feel good.

AK: It was such a dramatic game this weekend against Maryland, back and forth–you had a three-goal lead, they had a two-goal lead, multiple overtimes–what was the first thing that ran through your mind when you saw that winning goal go through the net?

JL: I couldn’t–I was like, “Finally!” <laughing> There were so many opportunities for Maryland to win the game, and there were so many opportunities for us to win…there were three different times I felt like, for sure, the shot was going in…and then when Maryland had that breakaway on kind of a crazy call by the official, I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this game is going to end on this play, them getting a complete layup going downfield”–and then my freshman goalie made an unbelievable save, and just saved the moment–and then the moment turned even better on the back end of it, and it was just–it was exhilarating.

AK: It’s such a game of millimeters, lacrosse is, but you took on Maryland a couple times already this year and Maryland came away with the victory then–(but) on Sunday you emerged victorious. Was there a difference in strategy this time around?

JL: I do believe the game could have gone either way, and we’d have been having a different conversation today–but I do think (our) players, they just refused to give up, and their determination and their togetherness was outrageous. Maryland was undefeated, they had the player of the year in every position, offense, defense and midfield…we were the underdogs in all stretches of the imagination. But…if you matched us up player-for-player, I don’t think we’re that far behind, obviously. My starting midfield group was Kara Cannizzaro leading the way, Emily Garrity and Brittney Coppa–those guys are just as elite as the group that Maryland has, and our offense matches up really well against their defense. And then our defense just played so well…we really dominated the semifinal against Northwestern, 11-4, and I just thought the momentum and the confidence that was built during that game was critical for us going into the championship.

AK: It made the win all that much sweeter.

JL: Yeah.

AK: You got home Monday from Philadelphia. What was the reception like when you arrived at Finley Field?

JL: It was great. We actually went to Boshamer Stadium first–

AK: Boshamer, yes, that’s right.

JL: –and Coach Fox was getting ready to find out (about NCAA selection for UNC baseball), so there was a good crowd in the stands there waiting for the selection show, so we got to say hi to them–and then we hopped back on the bus and went down to Finley. We run a little peewee clinic during the fall and the spring called “Young Guns,” and a lot of the little guys that we’ve been coaching throughout the fall and the spring were there, and a lot of the administration and different people, support staff that work with our program were there…It’s great. It’s good to know that people are paying attention to women’s lacrosse and what our program has done. We’re a non-revenue (sport), we’re not always in the limelight, but we do a heck of a job in the classroom and in the community–and then the icing on top is bringing home a championship.

AK: What does this mean–not just for your team, but for women’s lacrosse and lacrosse in general, especially in the Triangle? Duke just came home with the men’s (NCAA) championship, so this is a really great time for lacrosse in the Triangle.

JL: It is, and congratulations to the Duke men’s program. Lacrosse is growing, it’s the fastest-growing sport in the nation right now–and Carolina is still trying to make up ground to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast areas that have had lacrosse for so long. I have three kids, I have 11- and 9-year-old boys, and they’ve been competing on these select teams the past couple summers–and slowly we’re starting to bridge the gap between the North Carolina kids and what the kids are doing up north. We’re actually competing better with them–we just need more grassroots programs, we need more high-school programs, we need more coaches and officials in this area–but this area loves sports, and it’s a national game for North Carolina, and I would love to see the growth of the game from both of these programs bringing home championships this year.

AK: So what’s next for you, and what’s next for the team? What are you going to do this summer to come down from this high–and what’s next for you guys next year?

JL: We have to start working. We just met with the team, actually, to wrap up a couple business things and get everybody on the same page before a lot of people start heading home…(and) we reminded the team of what a journey we’ve had–it wasn’t all easy, we had some really ugly games, we trained hard…and we want our kids to take a little bit of down time physically, because they’ve been on the grind for a while, since last September…but you take a week or two, just to let your body recover, but we’re going to get right back to work. The grind to start working for (title) number two starts this summer–not only for our players, but also for the coaching staff as well. We’re certainly going to enjoy this for a little bit, but we get right back into coaching camp and recruiting, and the next two months we’re on the road a ton. So we don’t have much down time right now, but we will enjoy it–every little stop we take, we’ll meet up with friends that we can share the victory with.

AK: You’ve already spoken about the team once, but say a few words about this team and how special they are.

JL: This group was great. We had four seniors, so it wasn’t a heavy senior-dominated team…but they are really hardworking, they are really passionate about the game of lacrosse. I thought they did an exceptional job of leading our program this year. And when the captains and the seniors buy in and get everybody else on board, it makes the job for the coaches that much more fun and easy. And we just fought, all of us, we just fought all season long to improve and get better…we’d say, “Is everybody in?” And everybody was like, “Yep, we got it”…just a real hard-hat, workmanship-type attitude, and it showed, I thought, in that overtime game, because it took a lot of toughness to get through it.

AK: And a lot of those players are going to be back next year.

JL: Yes. Which is great for us.


UNC Beats MD IN 3 Sudden Death OT For Nat’l Championship

PHILADELPHIA - The No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team took down No. 1 undefeated Maryland, 13-12 Sunday night, with a sudden death goal to claim the NCAA National Championship.

With four total overtimes– three sudden death periods–  it was the longest title game in the NCAA history.

Carolina’s Sammy Jo Tracy came up with the game winning score to give the Heels it’s the first national championship.

UNC came out strong, controlling the tempo for the first five minutes. Aly Messinger scored first with in the first minute of play, putting Carolina up 1-0.

In the 26th minute, Brittney Coppa got the step on the defender for the score. Coppa made a drive to the cage for another score at 25:10—marking the biggest deficit of the season for the Terps.

Maryland’s Taylor Cummings finally put the Terps on the board at 24:41, UNC up 3-1.

Messinger moved to the middle and fired a bouncing shot past the Maryland defense for her second goal.

Maryland’s scored off of a free position shot to trim UNC’s lead to 4-2.

On a fast break after a draw, Maryland’s Katie Schwarzmann split the defender and got the score—UNC leading 5-3.

NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Kara Cannizzaro answered, scoring back-to-back goals in the 13th minute to put UNC up 7-4.

Heading into the half, Carolina led 9-6. Cummings was the first to strike in the second half. The Terps kept the momentum, scoring two more times to even the score at 9-9 at 24:00 . Maryland added two more goals, stretching the lead  to 11-9.

Coppa ended Maryland’s 5-0 run to lift the Heels out of a 15-minute scoring drought. Cannizzaro then evened the score 11-11 with 12:44 left to play. She notched her fourth goal of the night on a free position shot to give UNC a 12-11 lead.

Maryland’s Alex Aust ended the Terp’s 16-minute drought, tying the score at 12-12 with 3:50 left to go.

Carolina’s goalie Megan Ward came up with three big saves in overtime.

In turn, Maryland goalkeeper Kasey Howard made the save on a free position shot attempt from UNC’s Taylor George.

Cannizzaro got a look at the goal but Howard came up with the save.

After Tracy fired the winning score in the third sudden death overtime, the goal was contested with a stick check but the Heels were given the all-clear to seal the victory.

UNC finished the season 18-3.

You can welcome the team home to Chapel Hill Monday at noon on Finley Field.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse To Play In NCAA Championship After Win Over Northwestern 11-4

VILLANOVA, PA-No. 3 seeded UNC women’s lacrosse is heading to the NCAA Championship for only the second time in school history after a decisive win over Northwestern 11-4 on Friday in Villanova, PA.

The victory is the first ever for Tar Heel women’s lacrosse against Northwestern in NCAA Tournament play. The win also ties the UNC record for season wins and ends Northwestern’s eight-game run of appearances in the Championship game.

Kara Cannizzaro was the dominating force for the Heels in the game, scoring four goals in a row during the second half of play. Abbey Friend added three goals to the scoreboard. Single Tar Heel goals came from Aly Messinger, Sammy Jo Tracy, Kelly Devlin, and Jessica Griffin. For the Wildcats, single goals came from Kat DeRonda, Amanda Macaluso, Kelly Rich and Alyssa Leonard.

UNC is now 17-3 on the season overall. The Heels will face No. 1 seeded Maryland in the championship game  Sunday night in Villanova, PA, with the start time set for 8 p.m. EDT.