In Part III of our interview she gives her thoughts on recruiting, the Director's Cup standings, the apparel contract, and much more.
What has been the feedback you've received from your coaches on the adidas deal?
I think in general they are very pragmatic. They understand that there is a point of pride in having any major supplier - and there are only three (adidas, Under Armour and Nike) - to having one of the big three actually want us as a department-wide deal. I think they're very proud of that.
I think there are some that would have preferred Under Armour and some that would have preferred Nike but we told them the truth: That the people who came to the table seriously and showed a great deal of interest was adidas.
Our timing for pitching the deal wasn't great, although we didn't know it at the time. We met with adidas the night before our game at Cincinnati. We pitched a terrific deal at dinner the night before we played the game. We're very very fortunate to have the deal we have. They wanted six years, I wanted three, we settled on four. It's a relatively short-term deal. Our job is to have a different profile as an athletic program four years from now.
What do coaches say they like about NC State?
They love our conference. They love the quality of life in the Raleigh area. The Raleigh/Cary area is known as one of the great quality-of-life places to live in the country - we use that in our recruitment of coaches and staff.
Part of this is understanding that we have primarily been a regional brand and we would like to become a national brand. It all goes back to winning. We've made great academic strides this year that are measureable and that matters to me a lot. In fact, I will wear a coach out on that subject if he or she is not meeting the goals that we have.
That is one of our big challenges here as well: Retention. Figuring out why student-athletes leave NC State has been an interesting inquiry and what you find out are things you didn't know. As an example, we have a few Olympic sports that are not head-count sports, they're equivalency sports. We had coaches give scholarships as small as $500 and when you give a student-athlete a scholarship of any size, they now count in your graduation count forever. A student-athlete is much more likely to leave the team, if not the school. They say, ‘I could work at Applebee's and make more money' and then they quit. We're talking to our coaches about that - it's hurting their graduation rates. We are trying to decide if we need to set a limit.
For example, either a player is good enough to award a quarter scholarship or they're not.
How important is recruiting?
We're in it to win it. That's it. It all starts with recruiting. If you look at the five hires we've made, there is a commonality related to excellence in recruiting. They have already proven themselves as extraordinary recruiters. Recruiting is an art, it's not a science. It requires a tremendous amount of effort but it's more than that. It requires an attitude and it's not an attitude of bowing down to the 4 or 5-star athlete. It's an attitude of respect for the achievements they've had.
There might not be empirical statistical data that says every four star plays like a four star in college or a five star plays like a five star, but there is a correlation in any sport for a program that continually finishes in the top 20 and their recruiting success with four and five stars. Always has been, always will be.
Thoughts on reaching the alumni base.
We have an excellent working relationship with Benny Suggs who is an NC State graduate and relatively new in his role as the executive director of the Alumni Association. We've offered to do joint mailings and joint pitches for the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association at the same time. I did make that suggestion and I don't know where Benny and Bobby are on that concept.
When we are measuring, I'm measuring the things that I'm responsible for, which are sales - the money that I know we have for sure. That we need to balance the budgets comes through ticket sales primarily. That's where we are.
How important is developing the endowment?
An endowment is like a savings account. So if we were a family, I would say to you that I'm much more concerned with keeping the heat, the air conditioning and lights on and food on the table for the family, and then we will worry about building the savings account. Endowment initiatives all occur through the Wolfpack Club. I'm sure that Bobby and his terrific staff is paying attention to our endowment, but the lion's share of their time is taken with ensuring that the scholarship money is available every year and then working on a number of major facility projects.
The endowment will be a key part of the university-wide capital campaign. We have to take care of these student-athletes and these coaches first. If you do that first and you win and you graduate student-athletes, then that is a powerful combination that draws people to you because they say, ‘I think I'll invest money there because they do what they say they're going to do and they will use my money wisely.'
Conversely, if we slide back to 89 in the Directors' cup, don't win our bowl game, don't go to a bowl game, don't go to the NCAAs in men's basketball and that became a trend, you could have all the people you want trying to get money from people and they're not going to do it because the investment is so poor. I've always told Bobby Purcell that the way I can help him fundraise more that anything else is if these teams win.
State made major strides in the Director's Cup Standings. How did that make you feel?
We're a little ahead of schedule. You can only count 20 sports, 10 women or 10 men.
It's always nice to over deliver. It's the largest two-year increase by any ACC school in the history of the cup. It stands on the facts. We make a mistake to think that progress will be linear. I've lived this before. It will be like this: two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back. So when you have a step back, you have to make your mind up to fix it. You figure out what went wrong and you fix it.
How do you feel about the inaugural Hall of Fame Class and the committee you selected to pick the class?
I think they have a lot of courage to even be on the committee. I asked Chris Kingston to chair it. I went in the committee meeting for about five minutes to thank them and wish them well. I told them to do their best work and don't try to please everyone because you won't . Do what you think is right and then I left the room.
I heard the list and didn't ask about any of the conversation. I think they did due diligence and took the charge very seriously. That's all I could ask.