| Wins against Kentucky - 1 | Losses against Kentucky - 3 |
Alma Mater: Rutgers 
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Date Born: March 10, 1946
Date Died: April 28, 1993
Overall Record: 339-213 [19 Seasons]
|2/2/1986||Kentucky at North Carolina State||L||51 - 54||-|
|1/5/1985||North Carolina State at Kentucky||W||78 - 62||-|
|12/2/1979||Kentucky vs. Iona||W||57 - 50||Great Alaska Shootout (at Anchorage, AK)|
|12/23/1977||Iona at Kentucky||W||104 - 65||-|
Obituary - White Plains (NY) Journal News (April 29, 1993)
Cancer Claims Valvano
'JIMMY V' led N.C. State to National Title
by Tom Foreman Jr. (Associated Press)
RALEIGH, N.C. - Jim Valvano died yesterday, a year-long battle with bone cancer finally stilling the flash and sass of a gifted college basketball coach who led his team to a miracle championship and left it after a messy scandal.
With his family by his side, the 47-year-old former North Carolina State coach died at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, according to his attorney Woody Webb.
"he had a special way of bringing a smile to everyone's face," said Dick Vitale, his close friend and fellow broadcaster at ESPN. "He was such a genuine person. There wasn't an ounce of envy in him."
Vitale, who wept as he talked, said that for the last six weeks Valvano had been too weak to come to the phone.
"Watching him the last year endure all the pain was amazing," he said. "But he could still smile and light up a room."
Valvano pulled off one of the great upsets in college basketball history in 1983 when the Wolfpack, with 10 regular-season losses, beat favored Houston in the NCAA tournament final on Lorenzo Charles' buzzer-beating dunk. Seven years later, Valvano was forced out after an NCAA investigation determined that his players violated rules by selling their sneakers and complimentary game tickets.
"Sure he made mistakes, we all do in the coaching profession," said Vitale, a former college and NBA coach. "He said he took some kids who weren't college material, but if he didn't take them someone else would. That's the way the system is."
It wasn't long, however, after leaving the Wolfpack that Valvano returned to the college basketball scene as an analyst for ABC and ESPN. Earlier this year, he won an award from the cable television industry for his work.
"He's one of the few people who ever moved to the top of two different fields," CBS commentator Billy Packer said. "He was a top guy in coaching and then he was a top guy in broadcasting."
But coaching was Valvano's first love, and he expressed that affection in a 10th anniversary celebration Feb. 21 that marked the first time he had been on North Carolina State's home court since he left the job in 1990.
"Nobody had more fun than I did in the 10 years that I was fortunate enough to stand in that corner right before every game and thank God for the opportunity to coach at North Carolina State University," Valvano said.
The Valvano who coached there would stroll onto the court at Reynolds Coliseum, pace the red sideline and occasionally jump up and down in a burst of emotion.
The Valvano who returned for the reunion walked slowly and deliberately, bent slightly at the waist.
Standing at center court, he told a cheering crowd of more than 12,000 that his championship team taught him a lesson he carried through his illness:
"Number one, hope - hope that things can get better in spite of adversity. The '83 team taught us that.
"That team taught me persistence, the idea of never, ever quitting. Don't ever give up. Don't ever stop fighting," Valvano shouted.
He fought his illness with the same sense of humor that made him popular beyond North Carolina's borders.
During a March 4 speech at the American Sports Awards telecast on ESPN, Valvano said: "Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul."
Then the TelePrompTer told Valvano he had 30 seconds to close his remarks. He stopped and laughed.
"I've got tumors all over my body, and I'm gong to worry about some guy flashing a message that says I've got 30 seconds?" he said, adding one Italian word to express his disbelief.
Success at N.C. State
Valvano succeeded Norm Sloan as N.C. State's 15th head coach on March 27, 1980. He quickly won over fans with his wise-cracking charm and developed a style that earned high fees as a motivational speaker for corporations.
"He connected to other human beings," said Rutgers coach Bob Wenzel, who played for Valvano on the 1967-68 freshman team at Rutgers. "I'm sure he could have been a successful stand-up comedian."
Valvano's first Wolfpack team struggled to a 14-13 record, but followed with a 22-10 season and an NCAA tournament berth in the 1981-82 season.
Then came the magical season of 1982-83.
"My favorite quote was 'Trees would tap dance, elephants would drive the Indianapolis 500 and Orson Welles would skip breakfast, lunch and dinner before N.C. State figured out a way to win the NCAA tournament,'" Valvano said. "This team taught me that elephants are going to be driving in the Indianapolis 500 someday."
The Wolfpack finished the regular-season with a 17-10 record, then went on a tear that began with the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. North Carolina State defeated North Carolina in the semifinals, then knocked off Virginia and Ralph Sampson to take the ACC title.
Six more victories followed, most of them nail-biters in the NCAA West Regional. When the trip was done, the Wolfpack had taken its second national championship, 54-52, defeating the high-flying Phi Slamma Jamma Houston team led by Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon.
Valvano added the athletic director's title in 1986, but things started to unravel in the middle of the 1988-89 season. Allegations of wrongdoing appeared on the dust jacket of the book, Personal Fouls by Peter Golenbock, setting off a controversy about how Valvano was running the athletic programs. He eventually stepped down as athletic director, but his problems persisted.
An NCAA investigation revealed that Wolfpack basketball players violated rules by selling their sneakers and complimentary tickets. Then came point-shaving allegations, which have never been proven.
Valvano repeatedly denied he was involved in any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the team was placed on two years' NCAA probation and barred from the 1990 postseason. Newspaper editorials called for Valvano's resignation, and the school's student legislature said he should step down.
After weeks of negotiations he did, stepping down on April 7, 1990, after agreeing to a buyout worth more than $600,000.
Valvano worked for all three major television networks during his coaching career and afterward. In addition to his ABC and ESPN work, he was a college basketball specialist for CBS and a color analyst for NBC in the midst of the 1984-85 season.
Valvano was born March 10, 1946 in New York City. He was a three-sport star at Seaford High School on Long Island and the son of a high school basketball coach, Rocco Valvano. He earned 10 letters and was the first athlete in the school's history to gain all-league honors in three sports.
He attended Rutgers and was the school's senior athlete of the year in 1967, leading the Scarlet Knights to a third-place finish in the National Invitation Tournament. Valvano, a guard, finished his career with 1,122 points, 21st on the school's all-time list.
He began coaching in 1969 with a 10-9 mark at Johns Hopkins, the school's first winning record in 24 seasons. In 1973, Valvano moved to Bucknell and managed a winning season the the last of his three years there.
He coached at Iona from 1975 through 1980, taking it to the NCAA tournament in his final two seasons after winning a recruiting war with Kentucky for center Jeff Ruland. Valvano left after Ruland was forced to pass up his senior year because he had contacted an agent who was a friend of Valvano. Ruland later said Valvano gave him money as a recruit and a player.
Valvano, who lived in Cary, is survived by his wife, Pam, and three daughters, Jamie, Nicole and Lee Ann. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
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