Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Little Piece of Reynolds Coliseum

The update of the first book I ever wrote, Legends of NC State Basketball, has been out for a few weeks now. I saw it at Raleigh's Quail Ridge Books, which makes it official. I had some delivered to my house, which means I can’t park in the garage anymore. And I sold one to former Governor Jim Hunt at the Wolfpack Club’s annual ACC men’s basketball tournament breakfast in Greensboro last weekend, which was kind of cool.

The book—with new chapters on Sammy Ranzino, Hawkeye Whitney, Tom Gugliotta and T.J. Warren and a new foreword by current head coach Mark Gottfried—is available on this site, on Amazon.com and at previously fine bookstores everywhere.

To be honest with you, writing books hasn’t exactly filled up the kids’ college funds. Most authors don’t make that much on these projects, unless their surnames are King, Grisham or Rowiling. My basic cut on a $25 book sold via a bookstore or on-line retailer is about 65 cents.

That’s why I slog around selling them on my own. If you are interested, buy it where ever it is convenient.

Two of the first three books I did were pretty much busts because the publisher went out of business and never paid any royalties. That included the funds that were promised to the V Foundation for When March Went Mad, which was published in 2007 for the 25th anniversary of NC State’s 1983 NCAA championship and provided an outline for the Emmy-Award winning 30-for-30 documentary, Survive and Advance, produced by Dereck Whittenburg and directed by Jonathan Hock. The few profits I made on sales went to fulfilling that donation to the charity created by Jim Valvano.

The new book won’t pay off our recent kitchen renovation either, but thankfully not because of any publisher woes since the new group, Skyhorse Publishing of New York, seems to be in good financial standing.
Instead, since it’s another book devoted to Wolfpack basketball, it makes more sense that much of the income should benefit a project that is near to my heart: the renovation of Reynolds Coliseum.

NC State University and the athletics department are collaborating to rejuvenate what I believe to be the most important building the state of North Carolina ever built, turning “The House That Case Built” into a permanent home for the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame and a differently arranged home for Wolfpack women’s basketball,volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.

It’s projected to cost $35 million.

Many of the displays in the Walk of Fame will be relics from the basement and upper concourse closets that were saved through the years by the late Frank Weedon. When I was asked to go through some of that stuff a few years back, it was always my hope that they would be saved for an athletics museum or some such thing.

In the spirit of Weedon, who gave more money to the Wolfpack Club than any other athletics department employee, I wanted to leave a small lasting legacy for my kids and family when Reynolds reopens in the fall of 2016.

Somehow, my old roommate Tracy Fulghum was dragged into this as well and he has agreed to help save a little piece of NC State heritage. Tracy earned an electrical engineering degree and an engineering doctorate from NC State while I was out playing around with various newspapers around the Carolinas, so he is the smart one in this project.

For my part, the majority of profits from the sale of the new book and any future publications will go to the Wolfpack Club to pay for this financial commitment. So buy a book, and help save a little piece of Reynolds history.

What we plan to do is make sure the old noise meter that hung in the rafters of Reynolds Coliseum for decades is preserved forever in the Walk of Fame, with a gift specifically for that display.

Five years ago, the two of us and a couple of his engineering friends dug the old meter out the basement of Reynolds, freshened it up with some new red-and-white paint, rewired it and made it portable enough to roll out onto the court at PNC Arena for the State-UNC basketball game when the two schools were celebrating their 100th-anniversary of basketball.

All old-time State fans know about the meter, a homemade box with vertical columns of light bulbs on each of the four sides. As Reynolds got louder at games, white lights came on to gauge the sound. When it got as loud as, say, a jet engine, a red light would flicker at the time. During a Carolina or Duke game, the lights were almost always on.

Most everybody now knows the meter was fake, operated by someone up stationed in the ceiling barges fiddling with a row of light switches. It doesn’t matter. It was the inspiration of many exceedingly loud, raucous upsets and wins.

It was the first thing I thought of when contemplating what an NC State athletics museum might include.
In the coming months, the Wolfpack Club will have other displays that are available for naming gifts. For us, it’s an investment that ensures the old-time legacy of Reynolds will have a future at NC State.

And the noise meter will always remind people of the echoes of the Wolfpack’s greatest victories in the old barn.

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