Farmer, a Bruin forward in the early '70s and a Gilbert favorite, guided UCLA to a 61-23 record over the next three seasons. In '84 the university offered Farmer a two-year contract extension. But the deal required that he accept Hazzard as one of his assistants. Farmer quit: several hours later, athletic director Pete Dalis announced that Hazzard would be the new coach. "I feel he has the qualities we're looking for in a UCLA coach," said Dalis. "Plus, we could not wait. We're at a very critical point in recruiting."
Hazzard, who coached with the same combative style with which he played for the Bruins in the early '60s and for five NBA teams, went 77-47 in his four seasons. His demeanor seemed to repel as many prospects as it attracted. Although he hired Hazzard, Dalis reportedly ran out of patience with him sooner than did Dr. Charles Young, UCLA's chancellor. Young had supported the two-year contract extension granted Hazzard last Sept. 21, just a week after the NCAA ordered that two scholarships be taken away from the Bruins for recruiting violations. Most of these occurred during the pursuit of L.A. high school star Sean Higgins, who wound up at Michigan (SI, Feb. 23, 1987).
On March 11, Young and several vice-chancellors watched Washington State upset UCLA 73-71 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament in Tucson and heard fans chant "Sit down, Walt!" every time Hazzard rose to fix his trademark hands-on-hips glower on an offending player or official. Only then was Hazzard's fate sealed. Young subsequently agreed with Dalis that the coach would have to go.
Dalis had already been pondering four possible replacements—Valvano, Brown, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Arizona's Lute Olson (Olson's contract, though, prohibits his coaching at another Pac-10 school within five years of leaving Arizona). On March 28, two days before Hazzard was fired, Valvano, who was in San Diego for a speaking engagement, flew to Los Angeles. He met with Young, Dalis and Elwin Svenson, a vice-chancellor and Young's "eyes and ears" for athletic department matters, before jetting back to Raleigh to tell North Carolina State chancellor Bruce Poulton what was afoot.
The economics of compensating college basketball coaches have changed profoundly since '81, when Brown walked away from Westwood for big bucks in the NBA. Opportunities for outside income—summer camps, lectures, TV and radio shows, and shoe contracts—have grown with the game's popularity. A school's coffers needn't be emptied to keep a coach living well.
During the Wooden reign, the UCLA coaching job was the most glamorous in college basketball, but for 17 seasons the Wizard mopped the gym floor himself before practice, and he never was paid more than $32,500 for a season. Nor did he have car, TV show or shoe contracts. The Bruins are just beginning to adjust to the new order. "UCLA is 20 years behind the times," says one Pac-10 administrator. "It's the same way Ohio State's been in football. Earle Bruce had to hustle up his own TV show."
Yet last week UCLA did its best to put together a deal that would make Valvano happy. N.C. State pays Valvano $200,000 to be both coach and athletic director, and ancillary income fleshes his total take to an estimated $750,000. UCLA presumably would have paid Valvano at least the $100,000 that Hazzard earned, and V's potential to generate extra income in Southern California would have been considerable. For example, Nike, with which he has a shoe contract that pays him an estimated $120,000 per year, was prepared to restructure its deal, taking into account the higher visibility of a coach at UCLA.
But the tossing about of all these freight-train figures was sure to offend traditionalists at UCLA, notably the state's regents and many faculty, who might consider them obscenely high for a basketball coach. In addition, N.C. State insisted that Valvano buy out, to the tune of at least $575,000, the remainder of his "rolling" contract, which is renewed for five years each year. Faced with having to pay Valvano a princely sum, fulfilling the two years left on Hazzard's contract and giving football coach Terry Donahue a raise to keep him on a par with Valvano, UCLA could hardly help Coach V settle his obligation to N.C. State.
There were other considerations as well. The Valvanos were stunned by the prices of four-and five-bedroom homes in Brentwood, Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, even with a UCLA employee home-financing plan taken into account. And one of their three daughters, 15-year-old Jamie, was so attached to a high school sweetheart in Raleigh that she told her parents she would sooner enroll in boarding school than head west. The thought of a teenage daughter on the other side of the continent clinched their decision.
With Valvano declining to grab the accursed clipboard, Young and Dalis were left with: