NEW YORK, (May 15, 2003) Fordham University announced today that Dereck Whittenburg, who led Wagner College to the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance last season, is the new head coach of its men’s basketball program. Yesterday, Whittenburg signed a multi-year contract to lead the Fordham Rams in the highly competitive Atlantic 10 Conference. Dereck Whittenburg’s record, first as an assistant coach, and more recently as head coach at Wagner College, demonstrates that he is the kind of coach who can achieve athletic success on the hardwood while maintaining academic integrity, said the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., University president. “My own interview with Dereck earlier this week has confirmed that expectation.” Whittenburg, 42, brings to Fordham 18 years of college coaching experience, including five seasons at Georgia Tech under former head coach Bobby Cremins. As Wagner’s head coach from 1999 to 2003, he led the Seahawks to a 67-50 record. Whittenburg began his coaching career in 1985 as a graduate assistant for North Carolina State.
In 1986, he became a full-time assistant coach at George Mason, before moving into the same position at Long Beach State a year later. In 1988, he returned to North Carolina State, where he spent three years under then head coach, the late Jimmy Valvano. Whittenburg, a Washington, D.C., native is best known for being a starting guard on the N.C. State team that recorded one of the most remarkable upsets in the history of the NCAA Tournament when it won the 1983 national championship by defeating a heavily favored Houston team that featured superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. With time running out, Whittenburg launched a 40-foot desperation shot that was caught by teammate Lorenzo Charles, who slammed it home for the game-winning basket. Whittenburg, who graduated from N.C. State in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, is currently ranked 22nd on N.C.
State’s all-time scoring list and second on the Wolfpack’s career three-point shooting list. Following his collegiate career, Whittenburg was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the third round (51st overall) of the 1983 NBA Draft. “After meeting with Father O’Hare and getting to know the Fordham Basketball family, I realized that this is a great opportunity,” said Whittenburg. “I look forward to building the type of program that everyone in the Fordham basketball family can be proud of.” A community leader, Whittenburg is an active member of the V Foundation, established by Valvano to raise money to fight cancer, and sits on its board of directors. He also sits on the board of the Staten Island CYO. Whittenburg is married to the former Jackie Williams of Raleigh, N.C. “Dereck Whittenburg is a proven winner, both as a player and as a coach,” said Fordham’s Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Frank McLaughlin. Fordham is committed to building a winning program and we are confident that Coach Whittenburg can help us achieve this goal.