Carl Franks will return as Duke's football coach for the 2003 season, Athletic Director Joe Alleva said.

Alleva made the announcement a few hours after the Blue Devils' 23-21 loss to North Carolina. Duke (2-10, 0-8) hasn't won an ACC game in three years.

"I just want to end any speculation," Alleva said. "He will be our football coach next year. . . . Hopefully he'll be our coach for a long time."

Franks has a 5-40 record since taking over at Duke in 1999. The Blue Devils have lost 25 straight ACC games, and haven't won in the league since beating Wake Forest, 48-35, on Nov. 13, 1999.

Duke came into the season with a nation-worst 23-game losing streak, but the Blue Devils stopped the streak with a 23-16 win against East Carolina in the Aug. 31 opener. They ended the season with seven straight losses, but five were by five points or less this year.

Alleva said he would meet with Franks several times in the coming weeks for possible discussions about a contract extension.

"I think the team has shown tremendous improvement," Alleva said. "We've gone from losing games by 30 points to losing games by two, three and four points.

"That's the first step. You've got to crawl before you walk, and you've got to walk before you run."

-- From News Services