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Fogler: It came down to respect

Published Oct. 9, 2005

In the end, Eddie Fogler said his decision to leave Vanderbilt for South Carolina came down to respect rather than money.

"Here the last four weeks, it went from a financial issue to principle to me _ what is fair, what is equitable, what is right," Fogler said Monday in a farewell news conference at Vanderbilt.

"It got past the financial issue _ what started the issue two years ago _ to principle to me, and another great option came along."

Fogler, 44, was named coach of the year Friday after leading Vanderbilt to a 28-6 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He accepted the South Carolina job a day later and one week after Bobby Cremins backed out of the job and decided to stay at Georgia Tech.

"I could've finished my coaching career here," Fogler said. "I wouldn't have left to go somewhere just because of finances. That would be ridiculous. People who know me know how much my family really likes it here."

Fogler was 81-48 in four seasons at Vanderbilt, and his 1990 team won the National Invitation Tournament.

Fogler said he asked two years ago for a raise.

"It was a financial issue, I don't deny that," Fogler said. "My financial situation was not the equal of my peers in the Southeastern Conference. I felt that should be looked at _ very nicely, I didn't demand, I asked for that to be reviewed."

The coach said that Vanderbilt chancellor Joe Wyatt didn't respond to the request and that several people reported him to be out of town.

"Certainly, there's phones in about every state I've been in," he said.

Wyatt said in a statement Monday afternoon that he offered Thursday through the athletic director to speak with Fogler by telephone or to meet with him. But he said he doesn't think a conversation would have changed things.

" Certainly those conversations would not have altered the financial parameters under which Mr. (Paul) Hoolahan and the athletic department must operate ," the statement read.

Fogler said he knew Vanderbilt could not come close to matching South Carolina's offer of a base salary of $106,928, plus income from a shoe contract, a summer camp, and radio and television shows reaching at least another $250,000.

Not that Fogler is spending much time looking back.

He said he is happy to be at South Carolina, a university he feels has the facilities, a good recruiting population base and financial commitment to be a future Top 20 team. The lack of money is a definite problem at Vanderbilt, which has been operating with a deficit the past few years, he said.

"The only negative for me, a major negative for me, was telling my team," Fogler said.