Brown, 36, succeeds Dick Crum, who resigned Nov. 30. Crum left Chapel Hill, N.C., as the Tar Heels' winningest coach with a record of 72-41-3, but with a 5-6 mark this season, when North Carolina won one of five home games.
Brown comes to Chapel Hill with a 17-27 mark in four years and the task of reversing the fortunes of a team that in the early part of the decade was considered a challenger for a national championship.
Brown will assume his new job after completing his chores at Tulane in the Independence Bowl Saturday. He is getting a late start on recruiting prospects to Chapel Hill, although Crum's assistants had been on the road to recruit up until the time of his resignation.
In Brown's first two seasons, Tulane posted records of 1-10 and 4-7. This season, the Green Wave went 6-5 and will play Washington in the bowl game at Shreveport, La.
This season, Tulane set several offensive records, including the most points, averaging 32.5 a game to rank 11th among the nation's Division I-A teams.