Brooks Raiford discusses the 1989-1990 basketball controversy at NC State that resulted in the firing of Jim Valvano. He recalls his response as a Student Senator, which he remembers was unpopular with many students. Interview on April 19, 2012. (4:41)


Text Timestamp
In a nutshell, 00:00:00.000 - 00:00:02.008
Coach Valvano had become both basketball coach and the director of athletics along the way. 00:00:02.008 - 00:00:08.088
Also during that time, I guess it wasn't all that common in those days although it seems to be very common these days, 00:00:08.088 - 00:00:14.319
was that he had been given a perpetual contract. 00:00:14.319 - 00:00:19.258
As I recall it he was always at the beginning of a five-year contract, 00:00:19.258 - 00:00:23.710
so it would automatically renew every year for five years. 00:00:23.710 - 00:00:27.912
So with that by way of context, 00:00:27.912 - 00:00:31.746
there were some accusations made about the coach and about the program, 00:00:31.746 - 00:00:35.599
who knows how much of that was true in the detail. 00:00:35.599 - 00:00:38.644
It ranged from sort of what most people considered fairly trivial, 00:00:38.644 - 00:00:43.331
players selling shoes that they got free from sponsors, 00:00:43.331 - 00:00:47.733
to giving away or selling tickets that they received free because they were student athletes, 00:00:47.733 - 00:00:52.499
those sorts of things, 00:00:52.499 - 00:00:54.579
to some more serious accusations about 00:00:54.579 - 00:00:57.583
pressing professors to delay or change grades to keep players eligible. 00:00:57.583 - 00:01:03.611
All that sort of stuff was in the mix. 00:01:03.611 - 00:01:05.809
My concern never really was the detail about the truth of every bit of that, 00:01:05.809 - 00:01:13.916
although those were all important questions. 00:01:13.916 - 00:01:15.730
What we got to was a point where there was an untenable situation, in my view, 00:01:15.730 - 00:01:20.500
which was we had a coach who had been investigated, a program that had been investigated. 00:01:20.500 - 00:01:24.543
That created a dynamic on campus where 00:01:24.543 - 00:01:29.151
the coach operated very independently from the chancellor and the administration 00:01:29.151 - 00:01:34.106
So the student body president at that time and I 00:01:34.106 - 00:01:37.220
contacted the coach and asked for an opportunity to visit with him, and we did. 00:01:37.220 - 00:01:42.845
We went to his house and we sat in his living room and had a very frank conversation 00:01:42.845 - 00:01:47.271
about what was going on, his recruiting practices, some of the allegations that were out there. 00:01:47.271 - 00:01:52.993
Clearly he had a case to make and we listened. 00:01:52.993 - 00:01:57.061
We also, I think, asked some challenging questions 00:01:57.061 - 00:01:59.848
that we had about practices and behaviors and so forth 00:01:59.848 - 00:02:04.655
and suitability to lead at this point, 00:02:04.655 - 00:02:06.937
There was an investigation by the University of North Carolina system. 00:02:06.937 - 00:02:10.433
The Poole Commission Report is the famous report that came out of that. 00:02:10.433 - 00:02:14.936
That report was heavily redacted because it had a lot of names in it and so forth, 00:02:14.936 - 00:02:19.898
but although that report found generally I think a lack of direct rule violation 00:02:19.898 - 00:02:27.239
there was an awful lot of questionable judgment, in my view, that had gone on, 00:02:27.239 - 00:02:32.523
so in the end I felt like the university cannot move on as long as he was coach. 00:02:32.523 - 00:02:36.917
Now you've got to remember I came to campus with a "Jimmy Valvano for President" bumper sticker on my car, 00:02:36.917 - 00:02:41.498
so I was a fan. I mean this is a guy who I liked and was a huge State fan and loved the big win in '83, 00:02:41.498 - 00:02:48.238
and you'll remember I started in '86 so this was very fresh in everyone's mind. 00:02:48.238 - 00:02:52.667
I also knew that ninety-nine percent of students thought he walked on water 00:02:52.667 - 00:02:56.385
and that to say otherwise would be a really unpopular point of view. 00:02:56.385 - 00:02:59.679
But I ultimately came to the view that it was time for him to go 00:02:59.679 - 00:03:04.002
and for us to move on, so I gave a speech to the student senate to that effect, 00:03:04.002 - 00:03:08.785
I got a lot of flack about it, got a lot of support too 00:03:08.785 - 00:03:12.758
from people and faculty and staff as well who were supportive, which I appreciated. 00:03:12.758 - 00:03:18.190
Who knows if I'd do everything the same way over again, it's impossible to say, 00:03:18.190 - 00:03:24.108
hindsight's twenty-twenty, but I'm comfortable with all of that 00:03:24.108 - 00:03:28.025
and I do feel like we had gotten to a point where for the university to really get past this blemish, 00:03:28.025 - 00:03:35.507
whoever you might feel is responsible for the blemish, we needed to change personnel. 00:03:35.507 - 00:03:40.219
Out of all this the chancellor resigned. 00:03:40.219 - 00:03:44.567
It had gotten to a point where there were times I was communicating between the chancellor and the coach 00:03:44.567 - 00:03:50.236
and they were not, 00:03:50.236 - 00:03:53.020
so that by itself spoke volumes, I think, about where things had gotten on campus. 00:03:53.020 - 00:03:57.260
We had people cutting up their diplomas and mailing them back. 00:03:57.260 - 00:04:00.304
It was during all this that our student body president at the time stepped down and I became student body president 00:04:00.304 - 00:04:06.557
automatically for the last month or so of that school year 00:04:06.557 - 00:04:10.074
and so therefore was a trustee for a period of that time. 00:04:10.074 - 00:04:13.304
During that time when we went through the transition we rewrote the contract that would be offered to the next coach, 00:04:13.304 - 00:04:20.064
we had to go through a chancellor search, 00:04:20.064 - 00:04:23.622
and I was on the chancellor search committee that 00:04:23.622 - 00:04:28.117
offered Chancellor [Larry] Monteith the position on an interim basis and ultimately hired him as the permanent chancellor. 00:04:28.117 - 00:04:34.459

Request transcript of full interview

More Video