NC State turns to Chattanooga's Moore as coach
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)
North Carolina State is hoping Wes Moore can keep winning just as he did at Chattanooga.
The school announced Friday that Moore would take over its women's basketball program, which has reached the NCAA tournament just once in six years and hasn't had a winning record in Atlantic Coast Conference play in that span.
Moore spent the past 15 seasons at Chattanooga, guiding the Lady Mocs to the NCAA tournament nine times. This year's team tied a program record with 29 wins, including 19 straight with a run to the Southern Conference title before losing to Nebraska in the opening round of the NCAA's Norfolk Regional.
Moore also spent two seasons as a Wolfpack assistant under late Hall of Famer Kay Yow from 1993-95.
In a phone interview, Moore said the opportunity to return to Raleigh was too good to pass up along with family considerations - his wife's family is from the eastern half of the state.
''It's going to be a great challenge but I'm excited about it,'' Moore said. ''I think (athletic director) Debbie Yow's got a proven track record for having great success with athletic departments across the board, so I'm excited about having the opportunity to work with her and see what we can get done.''
The coach, who turns 56 later this month, has 558 career wins in 24 seasons going back to stops at Division II Francis Marion and Division III Maryville College, and led both programs to the NCAA tournament.
That would make him the only coach to take schools to the NCAA tournament at all three levels, according to his bio at Chattanooga.
''He just wins, bottom line,'' N.C. State senior associate athletic director Michael Lipitz said. ''He's passionate about it, he's passionate about N.C. State and he's got a plan for how to build the program back to the top of the league.''
The school hasn't released contract terms for Moore since it's still pending approval by the school's board of trustees. The school will hold a news conference to introduce Moore on Monday.
Moore replaces Kellie Harper, who was fired last week after four seasons. Coincidentally, Harper spent three years as an assistant to Moore at Chattanooga before becoming head coach at Western Carolina.
Moore was a finalist when N.C. State hired Harper in 2009.
He took the same job at East Carolina in 2010 only to change his mind and stay at Chattanooga. Now he's taking over a tradition-rich program trying to re-establish itself in a league now controlled by Duke, Maryland and North Carolina - with national power Notre Dame joining next season.
''I'll be honest: the people at East Carolina were great to me ... but it wasn't quite the same situation obviously as going to N.C. State,'' Moore said. ''N.C. State is a dream situation. I'm humbled by it, I feel a lot of pride because I've been there working with Kay Yow, so I know what N.C. State's about. I get it.''
Moore won 12 regular-season and nine tournament titles in the Southern Conference and was also a six-time league coach of the year.
N.C. State fired Harper last week after the former Tennessee player under Pat Summitt went just 50-50 in the past three seasons, including 16-32 in league play. Harper was the successor to Yow, who died in 2009 after a long fight with cancer.
Harper's first team went 20-14, made a surprise run to the ACC tournament final and reached the NCAAs in 2010. But that season ended up being the high point, with the Wolfpack (17-17) ending this year in the second round of the WNIT.
Moore will be just the fourth coach in the Wolfpack program's history.
Chattanooga interim athletic director Laura Herron said the school knew it was a matter of time before another school hired Moore.
''He has a great ability to recruit really good student-athletes, great students, great people who can play basketball,'' she said. ''He demands a lot of them. They love playing for him. I'm just really surprised we were able to keep him as long as we did because he is that good.''
Chattanooga now must hire a men's and women's basketball coach - men's coach John Shulman was fired last month - and is also going through transitions at athletic director and chancellor.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.