Interview Conducted 9/11/2008
Eddie Fogler is one of the many Dean Smith disciples who went on to a successful coaching career at the NCAA level.
Fogler signed to play point guard for the UNC Tar Heels in 1966 with no intentions of going into coaching.
FOGLER: “My aspirations were to go into the NBA. I quickly found out my freshman year that I wasn’t going to be good enough.”
He had a stellar playing career in Chapel Hill, averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 assists per game in three seasons.
Immediately after graduating, Fogler took a job as an algebra teacher at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD. He also was the Head Junior Varsity Coach and also served as an assistant to legendary coach Morgan Wootten, the only high school basketball coach ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Fogler stayed at DeMatha for just one year. He returned to UNC to get his Master’s Degree and serve as an assistant to Dean Smith.
After 15 seasons as an Assistant Coach at UNC, Fogler accepted an offer to become the Head Coach of the Wichita State Shockers. In three seasons there, he took the Shockers to the NCAA Tournament twice.
He became Vanderbilt’s Head Coach in 1989.
At one point during Fogler’s inaugural season, Vanderbilt lost 10 out of 12 conference games.
FOGLER: “Typically it takes a first year coach a while to get your system embedded to be successful.”
“I was much different than Coach Newton [Vanderbilt’s Prior Head Coach]. He was really successful his way and I just did it a different way. It’s not to say that my way is any better; it probably wasn’t. It takes a while for the expectations of the new coach to take effect.”
They won four out of their last six SEC regular season and conference tournament games and received an NIT bid.
Fogler credited the late season SEC run to the outstanding leadership of point guard Derrick Wilcox.
FOGLER: “Derrick became a heck of a player the last 7 to 10 games and he really took our team to better play. We had been struggling and Derrick really came on.”
Vanderbilt went on to win the NIT, defeating Saint Louis 74-72 in the championship game.
In the 1992-1993 season, Fogler led Vanderbilt to a school record 28 victories. The Commodores won the SEC Title and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Fogler was named the Consensus National Coach of the Year.
Fogler left at the end of the season to become the head coach at South Carolina, a conference foe of the Commodores.
FOGLER: “I was not looking to leave Vanderbilt. People find this hard to believe, and I find it hard to believe, but I’m not sure how it all went down. That sounds like a bunch of crap, but it’s not.”
“Ultimately, [it was] the timing of South Carolina coming into the picture and the timing of Vanderbilt, from my perspective, being slow to react for whatever reason to a coach of a pretty successful team and season.”
In the 1996-97 season, Fogler led the Gamecocks to an SEC title with a 15-1 conference record. They received a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but were upset by Coppin State.
Fogler resigned after the 2000-01 season with three years remaining on his contract.
FOGLER: “I got into a situation where I had a very poor relationship with my Director of Athletics and no longer felt like I could honestly represent the university.”
Today, Fogler stays busy with a gig he affectionately calls ‘Fogler Enterprises’.
FOGLER: “I do TV work. I help put together basketball tournaments. I’ve gotten into the consulting business. I’ve helped a couple Athletic Directors find coaches as a consultant. It’s really kind of a ‘Fogler Enterprises’ – I have three components to what I am doing.”
Would Fogler ever make a return to coaching if an opportunity presents itself?
FOGLER: “I’m 60 years old. I don’t have the energy, nor the want, nor the patience anymore.”
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