While watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Survive and Advance” documentary on North Carolina State’s 1983 championship run, I thought back to the time I was fortunate to meet Jim Valvano, although it was under difficult circumstances.
During Valvano’s last season as North Carolina State’s head coach, he answered questions from NCAA investigators in Tucson as part of their probe of the Wolfpack program late in 1989.
I was assigned by The Arizona Daily Star to wait outside the NCAA’s meeting room at the Sheraton El Conquistador to get a comment from Valvano upon his exit from the room.
The NCAA infractions committee met for three days in Tucson in early November 1989 to discuss alleged violations of players selling tickets and shoes. It interviewed Valvano and former N.C. State interim chancellor Larry Monteith for almost three hours on the first day at the El Conquistador. Valvano was no longer the acting athletic director at the time, having resigned that post in October 1989 after the alleged NCAA violations became public.
Although the Wolfpack were in a serious situation only six years after it miraculously won the NCAA title in 1983, Valvano was in good spirits when he emerged from the meeting room. He did not shy away from a TV news camera and reporter. He did not hide from me and one other reporter. He was not consumed by the thought he should be with his team instead, preparing for another season.
I don’t remember Valvano’s exact words, and I could not find an archive of my story for The Arizona Daily Star. I can recall that Valvano was genuine. He laughed with us in the face of adversity. He talked to us reporters as if it was just another day.