BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Jerod Haase got emotional when he had to tell his longtime mentor and boss Roy Williams he was leaving North Carolina to take over UAB's program.
"When I left his office yesterday I told him I have to leave and not talk because I can't do it," said Haase, who was introduced at UAB on Tuesday. "He's been great to me."
Then he left and ran into iconic former Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, but Haase needed no further proof of the basketball tradition he's leaving behind in Chapel Hill .
"Leaving the office at the Smith Center yesterday, I crossed paths with Dean Smith. I left there seeing all the tradition, the opportunity that I had there. I left there seeing Coach Smith and thinking, `it's my time to go,' " Hasse said in a transcription of his press conference on the UAB website. "While I'll miss everything at Carolina, it's my time and I will never look back. I will be 100 percent committed to UAB with an appreciation for North Carolina and for Kansas and for back home in Lake Tahoe, California."
Haase was hired Monday, agreeing to a five-year contract worth $475,000 annually plus incentives. Mike Davis, who was fired after six seasons, was making $625,000.
The former Kansas player has spent the past 13 seasons working on Williams' staffs with the Jayhawks and Tar Heels, two of college basketball's traditional powers.
"He's a winner," UAB athletic director Brian Mackin said. "He's won all of his life. In high school, he won state championships. In college and as an assistant at North Carolina and Kansas, it is in his DNA. He knows no different, and that is very important to me. He is a fierce competitor.
"Coach Williams, in my four conversations with him over the last week, told me that he has never coached a young man that hated to lose more than Jerod. He used to cry in the locker room because hated losing, so I like that about him."
The Blazers were once regular visitors to the NCAA tournament, too, but only made it once under Davis.
Haase said North Carolina was a hard place to leave after nine seasons but that "UAB is a job I'd walk to."
"This job has everything that I could hope for," he said. "This is a dream situation because I can recruit at a high level here. This is a dream situation because it's a fantastic place to raise a family and be a part of the community. This is a dream situation because there is a current team right here right now that I just met with that I'm going to commit to.
"And the players in that locker room have a chance to win and to win big. This is a dream situation to be able to work with this staff and administration that's here right now. They are good people, they are knowledgeable people that care about this university, and I'll do the same."
Haase called UAB a "destination job" and said he hopes to stick around long enough to leave a legacy.
"I hope that I'm not just known as the guy that won and won big," he said. "I hope I am the guy that is known for building a program that started great and became even greater from running it the right way.
"The fact that our kids are going to graduate is hugely important to me. The fact that we're going to do things in a first-class manner and get the kids, myself, my staff involved in the community, all of those things are a piece of the puzzle that were going to do here."
He said he plans to have a fast-paced style and put pressure on teams defensively.