CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ Henry Dickerson, an assistant coach at Chattanooga for eight years, on Wednesday was given the head coaching job vacated when Mack McCarthy quit six days ago.

``We found the best basketball coach in the country and he happened to be under our roof,'' Chancellor Bill Stacy said.

When McCarthy suddenly resigned Saturday after 12 years, the executive committee of Chattanooga's athletics board recommended Dickerson for the job.

As the new coach stepped on the floor at UTC Arena for the announcement, about 100 people greeted him with a standing ovation.

``Next to the birth of my sons and marrying my wife, this is the greatest moment of my life,'' Dickerson said.

``It's tough to follow a Sweet 16 and it's tough to follow a coach like Mack McCarthy.''

The Mocs reached the final 16 of the NCAA tournament last season, ending the year 24-11. McCarthy's said his resignation was the result of ``a long, hard summer of soul-searching introspection.''

He was known to have wanted a higher-profile job, and was disappointed he drew so little interest in this year's post-season coaching shuffle.

``This year was a frustrating year for him because we had done so well and we know coaches usually move when they do well,'' Dickerson said.

During his dozen years at Chattanooga, McCarthy won eight Southern Conference titles and made five NCAA tournament appearances. He owns the school record for victories with 243, and is tied with former Maryland coach Burton Shipley for most career victories in the league.

He was rewarded with a raise this year that made him the highest-paid coach in the league at an estimated $200,000 per year.

When he resigned, McCarthy said Dickerson deserved the head coaching job.

``His staff, given the chance and support, will continue to prosper and make Chattanooga proud,'' McCarthy said.

Dickerson, 45, made $45,000 as the associate head coach and received a $2,000 raise when he was named associate athletic director for minority affairs. He turned down a $70,000 offer earlier this summer to be an assistant coach at Alabama.

``I'm at the age where settling down, being comfortable and not moving my family to place to place played a big part in my decisions,'' said Dickerson, noting that he knew eventually McCarthy would leave and he would be considered for the top job.

``I was just hoping I wouldn't be in a wheelchair when my time came,'' he joked.

He said his biggest challenge will be filling the void left by the departure of three starters including Johnny Taylor, the first-round pick of the Orlando Magic.

``This year there will be adjustments for the kids and an adjustment for me. We'll have to work on the chemistry,'' he said.

But since Dickerson recruited and coached most of the players, the transition probably won't be difficult, junior Issac Connor said.

``We feel as a team he was really the only logical choice to take us to the next level we want to go,'' Conner said.

Dickerson, a native of Beckley, W.Va., is a graduate of Morris Harvey College in Charleston, W.Va. He played four years of professional basketball, including a year each with the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.

He came to UTC after six years as an assistant at Marshall.