A native of Clinton, Purcell has served in a number of capacities within the Wolfpack athletics program. He was originally hired in 1981 as a part-time assistant football coach for Monte Kiffin. Under Kiffin, he helped coach running backs, special teams and the defensive scout team in addition to being the academic coordinator for the football program. When Tom Reed became NC State's head football coach in 1983, he named Purcell as recruiting coordinator/assistant coach, where he quickly gained recognition as one of the ACC's top recruiters. Among his signees was Erik Kramer, the 1986 ACC Player of the Year. Dick Sheridan retained Purcell as his recruiting coordinator when he became State's head coach in 1986. Purcell also handled many administrative duties for Sheridan, including being coordinator of the Dick Sheridan Football Skills Camp.
Purcell became assistant director of the Wolfpack Club in July 1987 and coordinated fund-raising efforts in 49 North Carolina counties and various out-of-state areas for four years. He also directed the Wolfpack courtesy car program and oversaw management of the Stroud Center. Purcell attended NC State and North Carolina, where he received his BS degree in business administration in 1977. Following two years with Whirlpool Corporation, Purcell returned to school and earned a master's of education in sports management from the University of Georgia. During his tenure in Athens, he worked as a volunteer graduate assistant under Vince Dooley and later served as an intern in the front office of the Atlanta Falcons.
Purcell is married to the former Lori Williams, and they have two children, John and Paige. The Purcells reside in Cary.
Mr. Purcell took some time out of his busy schedule to answer questions submitted by Pack Pride members.
In terms of total membership and total dollars given where does the Wolfpack Club rank in the ACC and nationally?
We're second in the ACC in total number of members. We've surpassed Florida State and we're only behind Clemson. Nationally, it's kind of hard to get information from all around the country, but from everything we can tell, we'd definitely be in the top 10 in almost every category.
Probably in membership we'd be in the top three or four nationally. In the ACC, Clemson is No. 1, we're No. 2, and Florida State is No. 3. In total members, Clemson had 23,000 members, we had 18,000, Florida State had 14,000, Virginia Tech had 12,000, and North Carolina had 12,000.
The total cash received in athletic fundraising in the most recent year, Virginia was first with $28 million, Virginia Tech was second with $24 million, NC State was third with $22 million, Florida State was fourth with $19 million. We actually had $22,910,000... Virginia was at the top, and they had their campaign for the new arena.
It's safe to say that we would probably be in the top five in the country in membership and dollars raised. It changes sometimes with what schools are doing. When schools are doing capital campaigns they raise more dollars than when they are not doing capital campaigns. Right now most schools are in capital campaigns so it is more comparing apples to apples now then it has been in the past.
Over the last 10 years, the WPC has run several very successful capital campaigns, including the Pride Campaign, the Goal Line Drive Campaign, the Batter's Up Campaign, and now the Red Zone Campaign. How much money in total has been generated over this time through capital campaigns?
To what do you attribute the success of these campaigns?
First of all I think our fans have responded to the needs. We certainly had facility needs. Everybody said we couldn't raise that kind of money, but our fans responded and our fans stepped up to the plate. It was painful for a lot of them. A lot of them stretched financially, and the fans should get the credit.
|"The fans are the vital part of our department, and they deserve the credit for our success."|
I think the biggest thing was we had to believe that we could raise big money. I think it was finally convincing ourselves that we could raise that kind of money.
I cannot tell you how lucky we are to have the fans that we have. They have put their money where their hearts are. They didn't expect other people to pay for it. They didn't expect others to build things, and they stepped up. From top to bottom, everybody did what they could do and collectively we've raised a lot of money.
We raised more money from large numbers than probably any school in the country. Most schools that do capital campaigns, they have a small,select group of people that gives big gifts. We've had the exact opposite. We've had big-givers and small-givers all coming togther. That has probably been the most gratifying thing.
The fans are the vital part of our department, and they deserve the credit for our success.
The annual funds raised seems to be increasing yearly. How much was raised last year and what is the goal this year?
We were at $9.5 million last year and our goal is to surpass that this year. We barely got to $9.5 last year, that was a stretch, and we'd realistically like to get to $10 million this year.
How much of that is transferred over to the Athletic Department for scholarship support?
The way it works is they send us a report each year for how much they will need. This is one for 2006-2007... they are going to need $6,983,767 [dollars].
Where does the difference go?
It will go back for operating expenses and other such services.
In your opinion, what type of candidate should be considered for the vacant men's basketball head coaching position at NC State?
That's something Lee Fowler and I have talked about quite a bit. I want a person, and Lee does to, a person that gives instant credibility, is ethical, he runs a clean program, and supports academics.
|"That's something Lee Fowler and I have talked about quite a bit."|
A person who is a great recruiter and gives us instant credibility competing against Duke and Carolina, because let's face it, that's who we've got to beat. A person who believes, and expects, that State basketball should be on par with Duke or Carolina.
Historically, NC State has struggled with hiring a big-time basketball coach and eventually would select a mid-major head coach. Examples include Herb Sendek (Miami (OH)), Les Robinson (East Tennessee State), and Jim Valvano (Iona). What do you attribute this to and do you believe NC State has the ability to hire a big-time coach?
"I attribute it to the fact that when most of those coaches were hired there were some financial issues. The university probably was in a position where it couldn't afford to stretch too far [financially]. Now, I don' t think that's going to be a factor.
"We've got to go after the top people in all our sports. We've got to be smart, you just don't throw money away, but if you're going to be the best you've got to compete with the best and I think that is Lee Fowler's philosophy. He's going to do a great job of getting us the right guy for the job. "Also, when we hired Herb and Les, there were issues here that scared a lot of people away. We also didn't have good facilities... in any of our sports. Now we're able to be more attractive than ever before because we don't have issues and we're better off financially than we've been."
Have you had lifetime rights holders relinquish their seats out of frustration over the perceived lack of success of either the basketball or football program?
We really haven't. We've had people threaten to give up their lifetime rights in basketball, but none of them have done it yet. Sometimes people give them up for other reasons.
We always try to work with somebody. If you have lifetime rights and you lose your job, we're not going to take them from you. We will work with you. We'll give you a year or so... we will cover you until you get your feet on the ground. If you have a family catastrophe, an accident or death, we will work with you. We will work with people as long as they come and see us and let us know what their problem is.
We haven't had anyone drop out because of the success of the team. We've had some people threaten to do that.
Tomorrow we will run Part II of our interview with Bobby Purcell so stay tuned!