By David Rogers. June 24, 2014. BLOWING ROCK, NC – “Why not basketball?” new Appalachian State men’s basketball head coach Jim Fox asked an estimated 65 Blowing Rock Rotary members and guests on Monday.
Blowing Rock News coverage of AppState Sports is made possible by a sponsorship from Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center
Fox was the featured speaker at the last regular weekly meeting of the club’s 2013-14 fiscal year at Chetola Mountain Resort. The native New Yorker has turned down other head coaching opportunities during his 13-year tenure as an assistant at the highly regarded Davidson College NCAA Division I men’s program waiting, he said, for the “right” opportunity.
To put his challenge and opportunity at Appalachian State into context, he added that every other part of the university is, he described, “…absolutely first class. Why not men’s basketball?”
He conceded that it was “embarrassing” to inherit a program that recently was targeted by NCAA sanctions because of the team’s poor academic performance. Fox said, “I wasn’t here when those problems materialized, but I am absolutely the guy who is going to get them fixed.”
Fox started with Davidson as a walk-on, volunteer assistant who gained experience in program-building while serving in every role of Wildcats head coach Bob McKillop’s highly successful program, including the last couple of years as assistant head coach. As if parroting the iconic NCAA television advertisement whose tagline reads, “(Several hundred) student athletes will go pro this year in something other than sports,” Fox emphasized that he expects the players that go through his program to succeed on and off the court, in and out of the classroom.
He alluded to potential roster changes this year that are directly tied to individual players’ willingness to dedicate themselves to academic competency and achievement. When pressed by Blowing Rock News afterwards, Fox declined to comment, saying that it was premature and that nothing has been made public yet.
That there is a new basketball sheriff in town is unmistakable. In just a couple of months, Fox has hired new assistants, completed the recruiting of three promising freshmen from out of state (including a Serbian national), gained the respect of current roster players and established higher expectations for them on and off the court, aided in securing another year of eligibility for last season’s “team MVP”, Tommy Spagnolo, fleshed out the 2014-15 game schedule, and undertaken important community-building activities with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and basketball fans in the surrounding High Country communities.
“For me to succeed,” he admitted to Blowing Rock Rotary which each year devotes a late October or early November meeting program to evaluating the prospects of the upcoming college basketball season, “For me to succeed, I need your help. We need you to come to the games and fill up the Holmes Center’s 8,000 seats. Of course, it is my job to put a product on the floor that will entertain and inspire you. But we need to create an energy in the building, a level of excitement and high expectations for how we perform.”
Other Rotary Club News
In other Blowing Rock Rotary business, the club:
- Heard a report from 2013-14 club president Jim Clabough about the recent District 7670 Conference, in which the club won awards for “best newsletter” among the more than 50 clubs in the District (John Marshall, newsletter editor); for 2nd place overall in the most money contributed to Rotary’s Alzheimer Research fund and 3rd place on a per capita basis (Ed Tausche, chair)
- Heard from Vernon Dunn regarding the 2nd Annual Blowing Rock Rotary Auction, including the donation of artworks from regional artists and other valuable auction items
- Learned that the club had collected nearly $4,000 at the Horse Show gate for the Saddlebred competition earlier in June
- Learned that outgoing Blowing Rock club president Jim Clabough had been named Assistant Governor for District 7670 beginning in 2014-2015 club year