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Sloan meant best/worst of UF basketball

Norm Sloan, the men's first full-time coach who was fired amid a scandal in his second stint with the Gators, died at 77.

By wire services
Published December 10, 2003

DURHAM, N.C. - Norm Sloan, who coached North Carolina State to the 1974 NCAA basketball title and led Florida during some of its best and worst times, died Tuesday at 77.

He died of pulmonary fibrosis at Duke Hospital, daughter Leslie Nicholls said. Mr. Sloan was living in Raleigh.

Mr. Sloan's 627 victories rank him 26th on the career list of Division I coaches. He went 266-127 at N.C. State over 14 seasons.

"Coach Sloan was an icon of N.C. State basketball," athletic director Lee Fowler said. "And so much of our great tradition is a result of his contributions."

Mr. Sloan's 1974 title team was led by David Thompson, Tom Burleson and Monte Towe.

"We have lost a great warrior. There is not a day that goes by that I don't apply something that I learned from Coach Sloan in a positive way to my personal life and my teaching of basketball," said Towe, a coach at New Orleans. "He has touched a lot of great people in a great way and he will be missed. We love him and we love his family."

In 1973, Thompson helped the Wolfpack to a 27-0 record, but it wasn't able to play in the NCAA Tournament because of probation related to his recruitment.

Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith said Mr. Sloan "was always one of the great coaches we competed against. I mean that. His teams played as hard as they could possibly play."

Mr. Sloan, who was 1974 National Coach of the Year, left the Wolfpack in 1980 for his second stint at Florida. He went 150-131 over nine seasons and took Florida to the NCAA Tournament three times, including the Sweet 16 in 1986-87, after the program had gone more than 70 years without ever making it to the tournament.

"Coach Sloan made some outstanding contributions to the basketball program at Florida in his two tenures with the program," Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

But the era was marked by scandal. The team's star, Vernon Maxwell, later admitted to using cocaine before one tournament game and taking cash payments from coaches.

That, plus other problems, landed Florida on probation and signaled the end for Mr. Sloan, who was fired after the 1988-89 season when Florida won its first SEC title. His replacement, Don DeVoe, famously labeled himself "a no-nonsense guy in a nonsense program." DeVoe lasted nine months at Florida.

Mr. Sloan's first run with the Gators went from 1960-66. He was the first full-time basketball coach at Florida, a school that, until then, looked for its basketball coaches from its roster of assistants from the football staff, or by picking a volunteer from the physical education faculty.

"He basically took it from like an intramural program and built the grass roots," Florida historian Norm Carlson said. "He left. Then he came back, and built it up again."

Mr. Sloan went 85-63 in his first run at Florida, then left for North Carolina State. Including stints at Presbyterian and Citadel, Mr. Sloan had a career record of 627-395 over 37 seasons.

"Norm was a pioneer for the development of ACC basketball," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "He played a pivotal role in the (ACC's) history and tradition."

"It's a terrible loss, not only for the University of Florida, but for college basketball," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Norm Sloan meant a great deal to college basketball. ... It's certainly a sad day for the sport of basketball with his passing."

[Last modified December 10, 2003, 01:34:25]


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