Part II: 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!

  • Part I: David Horning Q&A

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    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 II of this exclusive interview, Horning discusses future schedules, budget issues, and the possibility of playing Duke and/or South Carolina in the future.


    Does the athletics department have goals regarding financial operations? For example, does the department seek to make a profit each year or simply break even in its operations?


    Our goal is to make a profit each year and to take that money and put it back into our facilities, student-athletes, and our programs.  Obviously, you have a branch of the department, which is the Wolfpack Club.  They like to go out and raise money for endowments, for example, and things like that.


    Basically the goal for athletics is to be substantial at the end of the year and not be in the loss column as far as money.  Hopefully the revenues that we generate we can put back into our programs, for example the baseball complex, the tennis complex, the track complex, and a lot of the office complexes for our sports.  So that's our goal.  It's not to really save money, but to take the money and put it back into tangible things that can help the experience of a student-athlete.

    With the increased seating capacity at C-F.... how much revenue does an "average" home game (tickets, concessions, parking) generate for NC State's athletics department?


    When you run the ticket numbers, the concessions and things like that, a home game could generate roughly close to a million dollars.  Then you also have expenses, and then you have a revenue stream from the conference for football, TV and everything else.


    It's very important.  I think it's very important to generate revenue for our local businesses when we have home games too.  There are certain times of the day when businesses can do better, and we talk all those things into consideration.

    In years where a deficit is run, how is the deficit funded? Reserves? Wolfpack Club?


    The Wolfpack Club funds our athletics scholarships, an endowment, and they also fund some of our capital projects.  We've never experienced a deficit.  Our donors have been gracious and really have stepped up.  Our scholarship contributors have stepped up and sponsored a lot of our student-athletes. 


    The past five years, while the economic times have been difficult across the country, our donors have really stepped up and contributed to allow us to build some of these facilities.  The extra revenue from basketball by being in the [RBC Center], we realized close to two million dollars a year difference than being in Reynolds Coliseum.  That money was put into our programs to supplement our non-revenue sports programs, and we put 800,000 dollars of that money aside for capital projects.  We carefully place our revenues to where we can allow our programs to grow. 


    A lot of sports programs end up being in the red.  Fortunately, with the interest that we have in basketball and football, and the ticket sales have allowed us to be in the black.  To be fiscally responsible, I think that's a key word.  We have to be fiscally responsible.

    Our goal is to make a profit each year and to take that money and put it back into our facilities, student-athletes, and our programs.
    How would you characterize how the department measures "return?"


    I think the first thing with return on a given year is that you're graduating your players.  You're increasing enrollment in the Wolfpack Club, that's return - the amount of facilities that you see being built, and the services that you provide.  If we're able to purchase new computers, new furniture, and upgrade our facilities, that's how we measure return.  That really is the only way.  You can measure other returns like increase in ticket sales, etc… but your ability to continue to fund all the programs by scholarships, allow them to compete and practice at the highest level with facilities, and continue to supplement the departmental personnel through state raises, that's how we measure things.


    After accounting for direct football expenses - salaries, equipment, game day operations, etc - how much "profit" does football generate for the department?


    Well, it's hard to say a set number because whether you go to a bowl game or not generates a little profit. Factors differ each year so it is hard to give a set number. 


    In comparing football and basketball as far as profits, would it be safe to say basketball would generate more profit in a given year because of lower expenses and more home games?

    Correct, but it can change pretty quickly too.  If you go to a BCS Bowl, if you have that seventh extra home game, etc… all of that can affect your budget quite a bit. 


    Are there any big names on the horizon that Wolfpack fans can get excited about?


    We've signed a contract with Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh.  We still have Tennessee on the schedule.  Louisville's going to play, and the home-and-home's with East Carolina.

    We're still constructing the schedule.  We are in the process of nailing down 2006 and 2007 with the 12th game added.  We're working on that part of it.  The next thing would be finishing up on 2008, and I'm already well on the way with some of the other games down the road.


    You mentioned earlier that you were happy that Ohio State kept their end of the contract and returned their game to NC State.  Tennessee is another team on the schedule and they are similar to Ohio State in that they have a huge stadium and generate a lot of revenue through home games.  Do you think Tennessee will do the same as Ohio State and return the game to Raleigh when it is time?


    They should… I think they would.  I think most schools do.  I think most schools do unless something comes into play.  The first thing you try to do if there is a scheduling conflict is to make it work.  You try to move the date of the game, as we did with Louisville, instead of a straight cancellation.


    I would think whenever you sign a home-and-home with a team that has been in a league for a long time and not jumping conferences, they are pretty faithful.  If not, they have to send you a guarantee.


    Steve Spurrier recently made a public comment that intimated that he would welcome a series with NC State. Any thoughts or movement on that front?


    I don't know, I didn't see that comment.  I just don't know.


    Well he can do that.  We have a history with the University of South Carolina.  We used to have the Dick Christy Award.  We used to play South Carolina on an annual basis.

    We'd have to see how it worked with TV, the schedule, and everything else.  The first thing I would do is talk with the head coach, the athletics director and sit down and make a joint decision.

    We have a history with the University of South Carolina.


    Some fans have made the suggestion that playing Duke as an out-of-conference game in the years that they are not on NC State's schedule would be a good idea. It keeps dollars local, keeps a traditional foe on the schedule, and provides another opportunity for State fans to see the Wolfpack live. Do you have any thoughts on this?


    We've had discussions of possibly scheduling Duke.  I've had discussions with the athletic director and their senior associate over there.

    You never know because that is a beautiful game.  You throw the records out and you go to Wallace-Wade or you come to Carter-Finley, you fill it with red and blue and anything can happen. 


    With expansion, the negative part is you don't play historically-driven games like Duke-NC State.  It was pretty cool.  There's nothing like being at both places on a sunny day in the fall.  


    You never know, and we'll keep you posted.


    So the league would be open to that as a non-conference game?


    Oh yea, I've already talked to the league about it.  They are fine with it.  We would just treat it like a non-conference schedule. 

    I've talked to both Lee [Fowler] and Chuck [Amato] about it.  The upside to that is you save about 100,000 dollars in travel costs, play a 1-A opponent and get the community involved. 


    ECU is a perpetual issue whenever NC State football scheduling is discussed. The department's attitude towards playing ECU has changed dramatically from the days that Jim Valvano was AD, even from when Todd Turner was AD. For example, an extension of the series has recently been announced. Why do you think the administration is more willing to play ECU than in the past?


    We've had ECU scheduled since 2002.  We had the Charlotte thing… we've always played East Carolina.  I think the big question was the 1986 episode where they knocked down our fence.  We have a safer stadium now, but they kind of suspended play for a while, because of the acrimonious feelings that were involved in that episode.

    In 2002 I discussed with (former ECU AD) Mike Hamrick, Lee Fowler was involved, that a lot of folks in North Carolina were interested in us playing again and we established the four-game series.


    What do you think about the upcoming basketball schedule?

    They are working on it still.  I think we are going to have some great home games for the fans.  I think it will be interesting having Boston College in the conference.  Certainly Miami and Virginia Tech have surprised a lot of people.  I like our chances.  We'll see how that plays out.

    Again, the object is to be in the postseason and have a chance to [win] a national championship.  We're looking forward to it.

    Again, the object is to be in the postseason and have a chance to [win] a national championship.


    How does scheduling football and basketball differ? 


    Football is usually two or three years out that you try and solidify everything.  With basketball you sometimes have to wait and see when the conference schedule comes out so you know when you can play. 


    You also want to make sure that you don't have your football and basketball games on the same day for fans to avoid conflict.  Sometimes that just happens.


    There's a lot to scheduling.  What are you here for?  You are trying to teach kids some lessons, and you're trying to give them an enjoyable experience.  Winning and having success is part of that experience.  With that success and winning you continue to build on winning, sometimes.  At the end of the day, you want that to be a positive experience for them.  You want them to experience a bowl game and not be at home watching them on TV.  You want your alums and everybody else to be proud and participate in that experience.  There is no question about it. 


    The Q&A with Senior Associate AD David Horning will be published in the September issue of Pack Pride.

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