Part I: David Horning Q&A

David Horning, NC State's Senior Associate AD for men's sports, discusses NC State's recent scheduling issues in this exclusive Q&A with Pack Pride!

David Horning is in his 21st year in Wolfpack athletics and his fourth year as Senior Associate AD. Horning serves as the senior administrator for all men's sports with particular emphasis upon men's basketball and football. He oversees the daily operations of compliance, video services, Murphy Football Center and equipment room, as well as ongoing capital projects and facility renovations for the department.

During his tenure, Horning has participated in the design and or the construction of the RBC Center, the Murphy Football Center, Doak Baseball Complex, JW Isenhour Tennis Complex, Weisiger Brown Basketball Practice Facility, Derr Track, Soccer and Softball Stadiums, and the renovations of Carter Finley Stadium, Reynolds Coliseum, and Case Athletic Center.

Mr. Horning took some time out of his busy schedule to answer questions from Pack Pride. In part I of this exclusive interview, Horning discusses NC State's recent scheduling problems.

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NC State seems to have encountered more than its fair share of cancellations in the last couple of years. Do you have any general thoughts as to why this has happened?

 

I do.  We've had four cancellations.  We've had Navy, Central Florida, Louisville, and Temple.  I think they all are related to either a program wanting to gain conference affiliation and can't playing us, a program that wants to lighten their schedule, and a program that just overscheduled too many games, which was Louisville. 

 

Both Central Florida and Temple dealt with the conference affiliation situation, and Navy just overscheduled too heavy.  Louisville was just too many games.  They have owed us a game since 1994.  Right now, we have that scheduled to be played on September 29th of 2007.

 

These games are obviously bound by contracts signed between the schools. Can you give us an overview of the general terms and conditions and language that are included in these contracts like cancellation conditions, etc? They don't seem very "binding."

 

They can be binding.  I think in certain paragraphs you will see ‘failure to have both parties consent to cancellation will have this type of payout guarantee.'  We did receive a cancellation fee from Navy.  We are requesting a cancellation fee from Central Florida. 

 

For the Temple game, that dealt with the conference and the athletic directors talking.  They helped us replace that game with Middle Tennessee State, and they got us an extra home game.  In that [contract] you were suppose to be able to either pay the forfeiture or provide another opponent, and so that was the language used for the Temple game.  We did get another 1-A opponent, however it wasn't a home-and-home schedule.   But, we were able to cancel our flight and hotel expenses.


So with the Temple game you may have came out better financially?

 

When you look at the numbers we did.  Now, we're still looking for future games, but those are the different circumstances that play into it.  Sometimes team may just cancel.  This could be a scenario, but I'm not saying it happened.  If NC State's paying a team $200,000 to come play and all of a sudden a team with 90,000 seats offers to pay that same team $700,000, that team will take the $700,000, pay NC State $200,000 and go play for $500,000.  Contracts aren't being upheld like they used to be.

If NC State signs a contract, we're going to honor it, but not everybody else always does that.

 

My hat's off to Ohio State.  We went up to play Ohio State and received a guarantee.  There was talk that Ohio State was going to cancel on us, pay the cancellation fee and just have an extra home game.  They have over 100,000 seats up there.  They charge their students half price for tickets.  So they make a lot of money per home game.  They could have canceled on us and had an extra home game. But, you know what?  They didn't do it.  You know why?  Because they honored their contract.  My hat's off to Andy Geiger and Ohio State for doing that, but not everybody does that anymore. 

 

If NC State signs a contract, we're going to honor it, but not everybody else always does that.

 

How much money do different schools get to "command" as visiting teams?  For example, how much does NC State have to pay Eastern Kentucky for a trip to Carter-Finley as compared to last year's game with Ohio State?

 

Well, you have a couple of different scenarios.  You have a "buy game." A buy game is when you have Eastern Kentucky come to NC State, but NC State won't return the game to Eastern Kentucky.  That's called a buy game.  They are 1-AA and there is a market rate for that.  What I do for a 1-AA team is I establish what a fair value for a 1-AA team is and I add inflation on to it each year.  I've been able to add a rate of inflation and I tell that school what we would pay them.  Sometimes I may be able to get a better deal or sometimes they may need a little more and we usually can work it out.  That's how I evaluate a 1-AA team.


A 1-A team, to have a buy game with them, would cost anywhere between $500,000 to $700,000 dollars.  That's just to bring them to Carter-Finley.  A school with 90,000 seats can afford to do something like that.  We can't afford to do something like that very often. 

That's why we usually go into a contract, with another 1-A opponent, called a home-and-home series.  We basically pay them a guarantee, they pay us a guarantee, we keep our gate, and they keep their gate. 

 

Now, we wouldn't do that for a Louisiana-Lafayette or some of the other schools that we have no business going down there, if it wouldn't supplement our recruiting efforts or anything else.  We would do it for Central Florida or a Temple, which we had contracts with, because we recruit Florida and we recruit New Jersey.

There is research involved in any sport before you schedule an opponent.

 

So a lot more factors are involved than simply money?

Yes, you've got recruiting and when you schedule somebody you look at their roster, the type of offense they run, we talk to our head coach, and we talk to our AD.  You get some information before you schedule somebody blindly.  There is research involved in any sport before you schedule an opponent.

 

Additionally... how much does NC State get as payment to make a road trip? Did NC State get more or less to play at Navy in 2002 compared to playing in Columbus in 2003?

 

You can negotiate with each school on what your game guarantee is going to be.  With Navy it was $150,000, keep our gate and they keep their gate.  With Ohio State it was a little more than that.  That gets established, and then you go up there and pick your hotel out and get your expenses. 

 

What really comes into play that can be unexpected sometimes is the time the TV game is.  For example, if you are on TV and they move it to a night game, that means you have to keep your team at the hotel longer during the day, you have to factor in a couple of extra meals, and that increases the expenses a little bit.  Factors like that figure into your expenses too. 

 

Who is responsible for the business issues/negotiations within the football game contracts? Who is responsible for reviewing the legal issues in the football game contracts?

 

It is the athletic director, myself, and our legal office.  When they send us a contract we have legal look at it and make sure that there is nothing there that we want to enter into that we shouldn't.  We negotiate back and forth, and then we sign the contract.  We do consult the head coach.

 

From the outside, the Temple situation seemed like a fiasco. There were reports that Temple didn't have NC State on their schedule for months before it seemed that the parties began addressing the situation. Of course, their attempt to appease their new conference affiliation also played a role. Can you share with us a detailed account of your/NC State's perspective of when/what transpired?

 

We were notified at the end of April that because of Temple's pending affiliation with the Mid-American Conference and their bowl qualification status that the Mid-American faculty athletics reps were going to take a vote to allow Temple into the Mid-American Conference.  In doing so, Temple had to drop one of their opponents and pick up another Mid-American Conference team and shuffle their schedule up.  The only way they saw that they could do that to make the dates match was to give up a home game and the date was NC State.


With that being said, they are playing four other ACC teams too.  Our athletic director talked with their athletic director, and he talked with the Mid-American Conference commissioner to confirm everything.  At the end of the day they reached a rational decision as to where we are.  That's why we added the Middle Tennessee State game late, and we have an extra home game.

 

That's how everything [happened].  It had nothing to do with Temple not wanting to play NC State.  It had to do with Temple's admittance into the Mid-American Conference.

 

I think the athletic directors and the conferences working together made everything work out.  At the end of the day, we have an extra home game, and we won't always have seven home games.  All that being said, we did the best that we could do with what was dealt to us. 

 

You're talking about having Central Florida cancel on you December 28th, 2004 and Temple University notifying you at the end of April.  That's two games.  Usually that doesn't happen in football. 

 

Was there a cancellation fee in Temple's contract with State or was it waived because they helped find a common opponent?


Yes, they provided us a like opponent, and that protects you in a certain way.  If you don't want to play us, you have to provide us an opponent and/or pay us the guarantee.  That's usually the way the wording is.  But, at the end of the day a lot of civility was demonstrated, and a lot of people worked together to get through this thing.   They had some issues, they were apologetic, and there are no hard feelings.  It's just the way things were.

 

Effectively, Temple's cancellation served to cancel two games on NC State's schedule - this year and their game in Carter-Finley in 2006.  Was NC State entitled to two cancellation payments in this situation?

 

The backend game is dissolved unless you decide to do something with it.  There would be no cancellation fee for that.

But again, we came out pretty good on the financial side of that.  I don't want to say what we got Middle Tennessee State for, but it was [good].

 

A few years ago, the department announced that NC State and Notre Dame had scheduled a home-and-home series for later in the decade. This was presented as pretty firm to the public and included in the "future opponents" section of media guides, gopack.com, etc. In the last couple of years, Notre Dame commented that the deal was not agreed upon and then it was announced that the ACC Office was handling NC State's football scheduling/conversations with Notre Dame.

 

How can two institutions so differently misinterpret something that seems as tangible as an arrangement to play a football game?

 

It was an agreement between the conference and Notre Dame.  They had dialogue, they had MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding), and what I can say is there is another team that's not playing them too because of the same situation. 

 

I had some dialogue with Notre Dame, and whenever you go somewhere to play a home-and-home, the team that hosts first is suppose to send the contract.  [Notre Dame] was instructed to orchestrate the contract.  The contracts were never [sent], and we have the memos that state that they were suppose to execute the contracts.  I've had several discussions with them.

 

A dear person up there named George Kelly, who worked there for years, passed away two years ago.  He was the guy handling it, the contracts for football.  Not to say because he passed away that it didn't get done.  I was dealing with George Kelly… a good man, but I don't know how much our performance in 2002 in the Gator Bowl swayed things either. 

It's no big deal. People send contracts and cancel on you. We've found that out too.


Was a contract signed with Notre Dame?

 

There were letters, but there was never a contract sent to us that I could take to our legal office to review.  We just have never received a contract, and our athletic director can verify that.


It's no big deal.  People send contracts and cancel on you.  We've found that out too, but again we have never received a contract.

 

What is/was the rationale behind the ACC's Office's involvement in the Notre Dame scheduling?

 

I don't know… I don't know.  You have the Big Ten-ACC shootout in basketball, and probably related to TV and everything.  I felt like TV may have had something to do with it.  But, it was something that was discussed, I believe in 1996 or 1997… that far back.  It could have been an idea.   Notre Dame has had several different head coaches and several athletics directors.  (Former ACC Commissioner) Gene Corrigan used to be the A.D. at Notre Dame.  There were some tie-ins to Notre Dame and the ACC.  I can't verify it, but that's how the discussions took place. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of our exclusive interview with NC State Senior Associate AD David Horning, as he discusses future schedules, budget issues, and the possibility of playing Duke and/or South Carolina in the future.


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