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The Old Professor His painful stint at Duke behind him, Pete Gaudet again teaches the game

March 12, 2001
March 12, 2001

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March 12, 2001

The Old Professor His painful stint at Duke behind him, Pete Gaudet again teaches the game

In the fall of 1998 Pete Gaudet was looking for work as a teacher
in Nashville. He had a few promising leads, but instead of
following up on them he took a job running a computer lab for
at-risk kids at Pearl-Cohn High, an inner-city school. Gaudet
didn't know much about computers, but he certainly could relate
to kids who had fallen on hard times.

This is an article from the March 12, 2001 issue Original Layout

Gaudet was Mike Krzyzewski's top assistant for 12 seasons at Duke
from 1983-84 to '94-95. Midway through the '94-95 season,
however, Krzyzewski had to go on medical leave because of an
ailing back, and Gaudet became the interim coach. The young Blue
Devils had gotten off to a 9-3 start under Krzyzewski but went
4-15 thereafter, and Duke ended up with its only losing season in
the last 18 years. Between the fallout from that performance and
the fact that he was making only $16,000 as a restricted-earnings
coach--a limitation since ruled illegal thanks to a class-action
suit led by Gaudet--he decided to leave Durham in May 1995. "I've
never been bitter about anything that's happened in this
profession," says Gaudet, 58, who's now in his second season as
an assistant with the Vanderbilt women's team.

A year after the Duke debacle, Gaudet took a job under Vanderbilt
men's coach Jan van Breda Kolff, but their personalities clashed
and Gaudet quit in September of 1998. Latching on to another
coaching position so close to the beginning of the season was
nearly impossible, so Gaudet took the job at Pearl-Cohn High.

It was fitting that Gaudet become a teacher. As a coach he was
never known for his recruiting or bench skills, but he did earn a
reputation as one of the game's best instructors, especially of
big men, having worked with Christian Laettner and Cherokee
Parks, among others, at Duke. "As I got further and further along
in my career," he says, "I found the things I enjoyed were the
teaching aspects of coaching."

Gaudet's instructional abilities were not lost on Jim Foster, the
women's coach at Vanderbilt. After Gaudet spent a semester at
Pearl-Cohn High, Foster offered him a job. "What young coaches
now don't understand is that successful coaches have someone
around them with gray hair," says Foster, whose Commodores are
21-9 and ranked No. 15 in the nation as of Monday. "Teaching gets
neglected."

It hasn't at Vanderbilt of late. "My fundamentals were very raw
when I came in," says sophomore center Chantelle Anderson. "I was
looking for a good post coach." Shortly after Anderson signed,
Foster hired Gaudet. This season Anderson has shot an astonishing
71.0% and scored 26 points in a 77-74 upset of No. 1 Tennessee
last week in a semifinal of the SEC tournament.

Gaudet isn't bothered that his job as a women's assistant is
low-profile. As his experience at Duke showed him, the limelight
isn't always flattering. What's more, it's not as if women's
basketball doesn't have its advantages. Last summer as Commodores
forward Zuzi Klimesova was about to leave Gaudet's office for the
final time before summer break, she stopped short of the door and
asked if she could give him a hug. Said an acquiescing Gaudet,
"That's one of the main differences. Laettner never asked for a
hug."

--Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY