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Robinson Stepping Down as Wolfpack Basketball Coach

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RALEIGH (AP) — March 22, 1996 - 2:10 p.m. EST

NC State students react:Freshman Tony Freeman (pictured, left).(au) and Junior Chris Albury (pictured, right) (au)Les Robinson is stepping down asN.C. State's basketballcoach but will remain at the university as an associate athletic director.

Athletics Director Todd Turner says Robinson turned down an offer that would have let him coach through 1999.

Robinson says he wants what's best for the program and appreciates the support within the university and from Wolfpack fans.

The university is holding a news conference to at 4:30 p.m. today at Finley Field House at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

Robinson declined an offer to continue coaching through 1999, according to a statement released by the university sports information office.

``I have stated all along that I want nothing more than what is best for N.C. State, its athletics department and its basketball program,'' Robinson said.

During his six-year stint as head coach, Robinson's teams had a 78-98 overall record and made one NCAA tournament appearance.

Robinson said he is proud of his accomplishments, which he said included restoring academic integrity to the team, community relations and developing players both on and off the court.

``I am also acutely aware of the passion that basketball commands here. And I will continue to work as diligently as ever to provide the kind of program of which Wolfpack fans can be proud,'' Robinson said.

Turner said Robinson's decision to step down was not an easy one. ``But it was a decision he made with his characteristic grace, thoughtfulness and unparalleled desire to do what is best for N.C. State.

``He accepted his coaching assignment knowing there would be challenges. And he has faced all of those challenges with dignity, humor and passion,'' Turner said.

``No one can challenge the fact that our basketball program has improved under his leadership,'' he said.

Some of the school's most influential backers and Wolfpack Club contributors passed a resolution March 12 urging Robinson to remain as coach.

``We feel the university should honor the contract with Les Robinson and that Coach Robinson should return as head coach next season,'' the resolution said.

The Wolfpack is coming off its fifth straight losing season _ unprecedented at a school that has played college basketball since 1911. State finished 15-16 overall this season and 3-13 in the ACC, beating Florida State in the ACC Tournament play-in game but losing to Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals

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