Fowler Speaks At Raleigh Sports Club

<B>RALEIGH, NC --</b> NC State Athletics Director Lee Fowler was the guest speaker at the Raleigh Sports Club today. Here's a sampler of what he had to say.

Here are a few of the notable statements Mr. Fowler during his sat the Raleigh Sports Club.

- Fowler, obviously a big fan of the Internet, started out by saying he knows that some of those in attendance don't believe he'll answer their questions. "I know on the Internet it was going around that I'll be speaking here today," Fowler said. "But apparently I'm also not going to answer any of your questions either, so I guess I'm just going to sit here for the next thirty minutes and not say anything," he joked.

- He also talked about how earlier in the ACC season he stayed at the RBC Center until nearly midnight talking with NC State head coach Herb Sendek after a close loss at home, only to find out the version was a bit different according to the Internet. "It was being said that I left at halftime from that basketball game," Fowler said, failing to remember which game exactly it was. "The truth is I went outside at halftime to swap cars with my car dealer, but apparently somebody saw me leaving the RBC and said on the Internet that 'even Lee Fowler can't watch this because he even left early.'" Drawing a roar from the crowd, Fowler said that wasn't the case at all.

- Fowler mentioned that he believed this was the first time he's spoke at the Raleigh Sports Club in nearly three years and they only ask for him to come out when, "coach Sendek is struggling." "Last year when he was Coach of the Year in the ACC and we finished second in the conference, I didn't get a phone call," he joked.

In talking about the basketball team, Fowler seemed to indicate that he felt they had a good chance of making the NCAA Tournament with a win over Florida State, stating that the team has a 5-5 record versus the RPI Top 50, better than Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Miami, and NC State's playing its best basketball right now.

- Fowler mentioned that he was thrilled with the new football coaching hires, stating that offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has signed a four-year deal while defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap inked a two-year contract and new wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon is working on a one-year deal. Trestman, who was the first assistant NC State has hired who uses an agent, is looking to settle down and "watch his children grow," according to Fowler. Dunlap was recommended by FSU head coach Bobby Bowden, who coached Dunlap while at the University of West Virginia. Dixon, who served as wide receivers coach last season at Florida, was also a "great" hire that the Wolfpack athletics director was clearly happy to have hired.

- Facility improvements are going great, as the Men's basketball team will move permanently move into the new offices at Weisiger-Brown on April 5th, and there will likely be an open house for Wolfpack fans to check out the new facilities. Reynolds Coliseum is undergoing a facelift, as the roof will be repaired and it will become a multipurpose facility for the women's athletic programs.

- Fowler said that he had a meeting this week regarding the North Endzone Project and he believes they are a month away from deciding when construction will begin.

- One question for Fowler centered around new NC State Chancellor James Oblinger and what are his thoughts on athletics. Fowler responded that Oblinger "loves athletics" and really follows NC State sports. "Mr. Oblinger knows what's going on," Fowler said. "He has four sons that are always on the internet so he's always hearing what's going on." Oblinger and Fowler meet once a week to talk athletics and the chancellor has been involved the past year and a half with monthly meetings held by the athletics department.

- When questioned about the questionable officiating in the ACC, Fowler stated that it's something Fred Barakat and ACC Commissioner John Swofford will look into in the offseason. Of course, all the bad officiating could just be from the perspective of the viewer, Fowler hinted at. "I know when I watched the UNC-Duke game I didn't see many bad calls," Fowler said, "but when I watch us play I notice every bad call."

- Fowler also discussed NC State's recent woes at the free throw line and how it's been critical in key losses this season. "Ilian Evtimov went 2-for-6 against Wake Forest on Sunday," Fowler said. "I was told that during shootaround he made 127 in a row before a miss the day before that game." He went on to say that it often becomes a mental issue and is just something that happens.

- There are talks going on that the schedule could be expanded to 30 games, with 29 regular season games and the tournament counting as a game. Also, there are talks of college football expanding to 12-game seasons. Although ACC Presidents are against it, most of the nation appears to be for it, including the student-athletes according to Fowler.

- Joking with the crowd, Fowler then started talking about how coaches are always looking for more improvements and always wanting more because a coach can't have everything they need. "If a coach has everything they need, it will be all their fault when they lose," Fowler joked. He went on to joke that the last time he talked with Chuck Amato, the NC State football coach was mentioning "something about needing a helicopter." "Coaches are always wanting more," Fowler added.

- Fowler was next asked about the recent APR reports where NC State's men's basketball, baseball, and rifle teams fell below the "925" line, roughly the equivalent of a 50% graduation rate and the school's overall APR ranked last in ACC. "Well, we would have been fourth in the Pac 10 and third in the Big 12 so maybe we're just in the wrong conference," joked Fowler. On a serious note, he said that NC State "has a problem with transfers" and he thinks it plays a role in the new APR because "these kids all want to play." The APR could result in the loss of scholarships in the future, but Fowler mentioned that all three programs have already posting improvements, stating that all three project to be well above the "925" mark next season based on the marks received after the first semester of this year.

- Another question centered around the basketball program, with an audience member asking what Fowler's expectations for the basketball program were. Fowler said that he wants the team to be competitive each year and he feels that has been the case. "The last four years NC State has had the fourth most wins in the ACC," Fowler said. He pointed out that Gary Williams, the head coach of Maryland, has just three more wins over the same period as Herb Sendek. Fowler also mentioned Williams' recent comments that NC State's competing in a tough area with Duke and North Carolina miles away, supporting them by stating that since 1984 those programs have played in 18 Final Fours, an astounding number. Fowler's last reference when talking about the basketball program was in reference to an article a few years back by Tony Barnhardt of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. After the Damien Wilkens fiasco, Barnhardt mentioned NC State should have hired a coach like Paul Hewitt, and Fowler said that although he thinks very highly of Hewitt, the Georgia Tech coach hasn't beat Sendek since that day with the Wolfpack winning seven in a row.

- The final question of the day came from an audience member that said he's been a referee for nearly 20 years and feels that he likes to keep the lines of communication open with a coach when he's calling a game but believes the constant berating of officials by head coaches during the course of the game is unnecessary.

"How would you do your work if you had a person in your office screaming at you for forty minutes non-stop while you try to reply to your emails or answer your phone calls," the referee asked. "I get that everyday," Fowler jokingly responded.

Those were some of the notes from NC State athletics director Lee Fowler's appearance at the Raleigh Sports Club, where he was this week's guest speaker.

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