MEN'S BASKETBALL

Highland native Magiera seeing Gulf Coast's NCAA run up close

2013-03-28T19:00:00Z 2013-04-09T23:31:15Z Highland native Magiera seeing Gulf Coast's NCAA run up closeSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com

Steve Magiera played tennis when he was a student at Highland back in the 1970s. But that doesn't mean the 1976 graduate wasn't keeping an eye on the game of basketball.

"Being from Indiana I've always loved basketball and followed it," said Magiera, who is the Vice President, University Advancement and Executive Director FGCU Foundation at Florida Gulf Coast University, this year's darlings of the NCAA men's tournament.

The Eagles became the first No. 15 seed to ever advance to the Sweet 16. FGCU will play Florida in tonight's South Regional semifinal in Texas.

Magiera and his wife, Sharon (Klosak) Magiera, have deep region roots.

Klosak graduated from Bishop Noll in 1978, then graduated from Valparaiso University.  Steve attended Indiana University from 1977 through 1980.

"I was in between the two national championships," he said. "But in 1979 we did win the NIT and we beat Purdue in the championship game which made it that much more special."

Magiera remembered all the great high school teams in Gary and East Chicago in his youth. He said his basketball fix continued at IU, where students had to stand in line just to get tickets for a game.

This same craziness is happening at the school located in Fort Myers.

"It's been amazing, this has never been done before," Magiera said. "It's been crazy."

On Monday, the athletic department had 75 inquiries from the media for interviews. The Eagles' T-Shirts can't be kept on the shelves.

This is like VU's run to the Sweet 16 in 1998.

His family lived in Schererville and Lowell before moving south in 1994. He's worked at Gulf Coast since it opened in 1997.

While Magiera is a huge Eagles supporter and attended many of games this season, he also follows Indiana University hoops very closely. If the Eagles and Hoosiers win this weekend, they would play in the national semifinal.

"That would be tough," Magiera said with a laugh. "I don't want to talk about that until the Final Four."

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