Friday, April 30, 2010

Jim Valvano Thoughts; Alumni Director Hired

The email in-box brings interesting reading and announcements of interest on a daily basis. I usually receive a heavy dose of jokes along with bunches of emails, business and personal, except from legal counsel at NC State University when I question the possibility of former temporary chancellor James Woodward illegally deleting emails from his in-box as he departed from Holliday Hall, the ivory tower of leadership on the west Raleigh campus.

It was Tuesday of this week when an email went to Deborah Harvey, administrative officer in the NCSU Office of Legal Affairs, and copied to Harvey’s boss, Eileen S. Goldgeier, NCSU Vice Chancellor and General Counsel. The content of my email: I am disturbed by your letter of April 23, 2010 saying that originating emails from individuals to Chancellor Woodward do not exist in that mailbox. Did he delete emails, breaking a law? I can only assume so, unless you can prove to me otherwise. Maybe this is also the case with other emails that came to him. Please explain.

No explanation has been received, though it’s been just a few days. And, a call to Goldgeier has not been returned. When I called yesterday, I was told she was in a staff meeting. That explanation came several moments after I requested to speak with her, just time enough to come up with that excuse. I was told she would return my call. Not yet, 24 hours later. For anyone who wants to ask her the same question, her email address is:
Yesterday, I received two good reads in the form of emails, one about a column by friend and writer John Feinstein, reporter for the Washington Post and “aspiring” author. Just joking on the aspiring stuff. He’s authored lots of books, very successfully, including his first, A Season On The Brink.

The email reminded me that Jim Valvano passed away 17 years ago Wednesday. It’s hard to realize it has been that long. Since I worked closely with Jim for seven years, it’s hard for me to remember that date because of the many fond memories I have of being by his side during his days as Wolfpack basketball coach and Director of Athletics. In many ways with me, Jim is still alive.

I get credit for starting his local radio career, though it was his talent that carried the program and his media career to its success. Shortly after arriving at NC State, I approached him about doing a pre-recorded radio program, just 15 minutes long. Through contacts at WRAL-FM radio, I was to pitch the idea to Wally Voight, a Capitol Broadcasting executive, about syndicating the program on Capitol’s statewide network. WRAL-FM was the local outlet for the North Carolina Tar Heels radio network; WPTF-AM was the flagship radio station for Wolfpack athletics, but the NC State athletics department was handling its own statewide network of stations. Jim wanted more statewide exposure, and this would be a way.

Voight, knowing why I was in his office, didn’t want to hear the audition tape. Instead he asked, “Would Jim be interested in a weekly statewide radio call-in show?” I was not Jim’s agent, but Voight might have thought so, or maybe he felt I was the best avenue to the flamboyant personality. We talked for no more than five minutes, and I returned to Jim’s office. He was enthusiastic about the pre-record possibility and wanted to know the response.

“He didn’t even listen to the tape,” I told Jim who brushed it off and started to turn his attention to basketball matters. “But he does want to know if you’d like to do a weekly call-in radio show, statewide.” It didn’t take Jim very long to say yes, but he wanted it solo, no host to act as traffic cop with the callers. We scheduled a meeting with Voight, and a deal was soon struck. Voight handed both of us a proposed contract which outlined the terms and called for a $25,000 annual fee to Jim. I still have my copy of the original contract.

As we drove back to the Case Athletics Center, his office and mine as Publications Editor for the Wolfpack Club while working in the Sports Information Office, Jim was like the kid in a candy store. “I can’t believe he’s going to pay me $25,000 to talk for an hour,” Jim said several times.

I could go on and on about his show, and one day I may write more about: the times the telephone lines went dead and Jim talked for an hour to himself and anyone who would listen; about the time the phone lines worked but when during the summer no one was calling and I took care of that with a call to the show myself, getting Jim to say “Darrell Waltrip” when I asked for his favorite NASCAR driver which caused the lines to light up and stay that way for the entire hour; and about the love his audience had for him while he sat behind the microphone. He was an excellent basketball coach, but I believe he was a better human-being, caring about people ahead of himself.

And, he was a lot smarter than any members of the media who covered him during and after his years at NC State. Even smarter than John Feinstein, whose blog of Wednesday is suggested reading. Just click here: Feinstein On The Brink. Be sure to read the wonderful comments at the end of John's writing.
The other email of interest came from the NC State University Alumni Association announcing the hiring of Benny Suggs, Class of ’69, as the new Executive Director. The retired US Navy Rear Admiral has an impressive background and comes to the position from Harley Owners Group (HOG) and Rider Services at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., where he has been general manager.

His credentials give him kudos for the expansion of HOG. And, we must assume he’ll be great for NC State University. It’ll be interesting to see if he can grow the membership to the levels expected by former temporary Chancellor James Woodward. But then, that doesn’t matter because that man of little integrity who may have illegally erased emails is no longer in that position, thank goodness.

Among Suggs credits: 30 years in the U.S. Navy; deputy commander in chief, U.S. Special Operations Command, upon his retirement in 2000; commander of Carrier Group Six/John C. Stennis Battle Group; and director for Operations, Plans and Policy, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, where he was responsible for the training and deployment preparations of more than 175,000 personnel. He works directly for NCSU Vice Chancellor of Advancement Nevin Kessler. But, with his background, Suggs probably knows how to watch his back. To read the announcement of the hiring of Suggs, click here to go to the NCSU Alumni Association website.
Have a nice weekend. Be sure to watch the Quail Hollow Championship golf tournament and take a few minutes Saturday afternoon to catch the annual Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of the Derby, did you realize there is a Wolfpack exacta? I'm putting ten bucks on Sidney's Candy and Stately Victor.


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