Valvano, Nets agree, report says Ex-N.C. State coach would replace Fitch


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Valvano concluded negotiations with the New Jersey Nets late Friday and reached an agreement to become head coach of the NBA team, according to a source close to the negotiations.

The source told The Charlotte Observer that the agreement allowed Valvano to take over the team as soon as he wanted but that he is not expected to do so until after Christmas.

Valvano, 45, who won the national title at North Carolina State, is believed to have agreed to a five-year, $2.7 million contract, which would rank among the top half of NBA salaries for head coaches.

Valvano, reached Friday night at his hotel room in Bristol, Conn., where he works for ESPN, declined to comment.

Valvano, a native of New York and a former coach at Iona, is scheduled to replace Bill Fitch, who has a 50-138 record in three seasons with the Nets after Friday night's home loss to the Chicago Bulls.

The Nets, 7-17 this season, appear to have a strong nucleus around which to build.

Power forward Derrick Coleman was the NBA Rookie of the Year last season, and rookie point guard Kenny Anderson is considered a future star despite struggling this season.

Valvano has worked as a college basketball commentator for ESPN and ABC since being forced out of his job at N.C. State after an NCAA investigation and unconfirmed reports of point-shaving by Wolfpack players.

Valvano was 209-114 in 10 seasons at N.C. State. He led the Wolfpack to the 1983 NCAA championship in one of the most dramatic runs in the history of the tournament. The Wolfpack beat Houston 54-52 for the championship when Lorenzo Charles made converted an air ball into a last-second dunk.

Valvano's troubles at N.C. State stemmed from the academic deficiencies of some of his recruits. It was reported that only eight of the 46 players he recruited graduated.

Three others transferred and graduated elsewhere.

N.C. State was placed on NCAA probation and forced to sit out the 1990 NCAA Tournament because players sold shoes and complimentary game tickets.

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