Part I: Q&A With Lee Fowler

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lee Fowler, NC State's Athletics Director, discusses several hot topics in this exclusive Q&A with Pack Pride!

Pack Pride got the opportunity to sit down with NC State athletics director Lee Fowler and discuss a number of issues surrounding Wolfpack sports.

If the baseball team has another good season and a legitimate shot at hosting a regional at Doak Field, will State make a more aggressive financial bid to try to secure a host site?
We made a competitive bid last year. I think it has a lot more to do with where the team is and if they are one of the top 16 teams.

We definitely made a bid last year as competitive as over half the teams that got them. I think a lot of people heard we didn't but we definitely want to host. It gives you a much better chance of making the tournament.

We're making a bid we feel like is competitive with over half the other teams. We feel like we did that last year. Our team must not have been ranked high enough to receive one of the bids.

I know it has been stated that the amount of the bid doesn't matter as long as the minimum is met, but if that is the case why does the NCAA have schools bid at all?
Well I think they want people to host, so the only way you can get somebody ready and prepared to host is to have a team make a bid where you make a commitment to hosting.

I don't think money kept us from getting it last year or any other year. I think it has more to do with the top teams and who the selection committee feels are the top teams.

I think you've got to make the minimum bid at least, but I don't think someone will outbid another team. I don't think a 20th place team will get it over the 16th place team if the better team at least makes a minimum bid or higher. That's the advantage of having a host... to give a better team a chance of doing better in the tournament.

"It gives you a much better chance of making the tournament."
Are there any plans to improve the Aquatic facilities for the swimming and diving teams?
We've talked a lot about that, but we don't have the money at this time to do it. We've talked on-campus and off-campus about that. We talked to Cary about maybe leasing some of the time at their pool when they build their new pool that they are planning, and we also talked about in the future looking at some sort of pool on Centennial Campus.

You're talking about a 15-20 million dollar building so it's not something that you can just talk about and have it done. It's going to be something done in conjunction with the university where the swim team can use it as we've done here with Carmichael.

Any updates on the Centennial Campus golf course?
Yes, I think there's going to be an announcement pretty soon on a major gift and if that comes through then I think we'll start work sometime this summer on building the golf course.

How is the Athletic department doing financially? Is there much debt left with the stadium expansion?
I think it's tightened our day-to-day operations simply because when you do something in a five-year period that most schools have done over the past 20 or 30 years, it puts a bind on you financially. We've been very fortunate that the students have stepped up, the Wolfpack Club has stepped up to pay for the facilities but we still have debt on some of the facilities on campus that we still have to pay for.

It has tightened our budget, but we're in good financial shape. We need to build up a reserve where we can be in even better financial shape. I would say that football and basketball need to keep doing as well as they are and we'll be fine financially.

Will the weekly football/basketball TV show continue to be at 11:30 Sunday night in the Raleigh market? Why would Virginia Tech have a more favorable time than NC State? How are those decisions made?
Wolfpack Sports Marketing gets involved in that. They do a lot of research on when the show has better ratings and when the most people are watching it.

We shifted to that this year because it had a higher rating and more people were watching it at that time than Sunday morning. We try to do it year-to-year based on what the ratings say as far as when more people would watch. We try to put it in a time where most fans would watch it.

Has there been any discussions on the relief of the four-hour tailgate rule?
I think the Chancellor here within the next month is having a meeting called with that same group to discuss that. There will be some kind of recommendations coming out from that again. We should know something in the middle of February or the end of February.

Is there a timetable on building an indoor football facility?
There really isn't. As we talked about earlier in those other questions about debt, that's something we really wouldn't take on debt for. It would be something that we'd have to get a major giver who would want to put his or her name on it to build it without any debt on it because we wouldn't want to put any more debt on the Wolfpack Club or our department.

"You can't have a guy on TV every Saturday ripping your program."
Four days before the Clemson game (November 7th) you were quoted in the N&O talking about Amato's job status: "It's not an issue at this point. Some fans talk, and there's the Internet squawk; but it's not an issue with me."

Exactly two weeks later you said: "I don't want to say anything about Coach Amato at this point. We'll look at the season when it's over."

Were the losses to Clemson and UNC what turned the tide in the Athletic Administration?
Well, I think I've always said, I'll tell my trustees and I tell the Wolfpack Club that I'll never be negative in public. Things do change from time-to-time and you don't know what's going to be until you finally do make a decision. The main thing is I've got to try and make the team the best it can be. You don't make negative comments in the paper even though you may know what's going to happen at the end of the year. That hurts recruiting for three or four more weeks that you don't need it to be hurt.

Everyday that I work here, I try to make things the best they can be until we make a final decision. I'm always going to be positive of my coaches. That doesn't mean that my mind changed that much, it just means that until a decision is made I'm going to be positive.

I've got to do the best I can do for this program knowing that some people are going to like it and some aren't going to like it. I'm just trying to do what's best for the overall program and the longevity of the program.

Do you regret calling Mark May in the middle of the season saying that Chuck Amato wasn't on the hot seat?
No. I've got a national guy saying my guy is gone, and at that point in time there was no reason to make that comment. You've got a national guy hurting NC State, I'm not going to sit back and take that.

Mark May called me and apologized and just said he was going on hearsay. I promise you at the time he made that statement, there were no trustees…there wasn't anybody after Chuck Amato. So I was doing once again what was best for the program at the time.

You can't have a guy on TV every Saturday ripping your program because it tears it down from the roots. Mark and I had a good conversation. He apologized and he didn't say it anymore and it accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

I promise you he didn't know that because I didn't know that at that time. He was pretty much going on hearsay.

Do you feel like entering the East Carolina game that Chuck Amato felt he was coaching for his job?
It would be something that Chuck would have to answer... not me. I know that three or four weeks before the North Carolina game he and I had a conversation and we both knew how important the North Carolina game would be.

I can't remember exactly when, but it was probably the Monday a few weeks before we played North Carolina, and he and I both talked about how important the North Carolina game was going to be.

There seemed to be block student tickets either given away or sold to ECU fans even though there were a lot of students that still wanted tickets but didn't get them? Did NC State sell ECU extra tickets in the student sections?
We don't sell any student tickets unless the students didn't pick up all the tickets. I don't know at this point whether they picked them all up or didn't.

If they did not by the deadline we may have sold tickets but we wouldn't have sold them to ECU. The tickets may have been bought by ECU fans, but we didn't give them to ECU to sell to their fans.

Is it true that NC State has scheduled a road basketball game at East Carolina sometime in the near future? Why is that in the best interest of NC State? Next year. I don't think that playing ECU is a bad thing. Terry Holland and I have had a long relationship. I think Wake and Duke are going to do that. I don't know if Carolina is.

We're going to play two-for-one. We need home games... it's an advantage for us to get two home games for one road game.

We're going to get more tickets... we're going to get like 1,500 of their tickets for Wolfpack fans. Our boosters in the eastern part of the state, we're going to be able to take care of them to come to the game. We don't ever do anything in the eastern part of the state, we have a lot of great fans that give a lot of money and a lot of those fans are positive about us playing East Carolina. It's part of their culture, where they live, and they are Wolfpackers. Those things are the reason we're doing it.

"I don't think that playing ECU is a bad thing."

If NC State would schedule East Carolina, would you consider playing at App. State or UNC-Greensboro?
I think we will probably do something like that in the future. We're playing Valpo now home and away... if you look around the country, there are a lot of schools starting to do that.

Michigan State went to The Citadel... if you know the mathematics of the RPI, you're better off. If we beat the Citadel here it means nothing, but if you go there and win it gives you extra points in the RPI. You're going to see some teams starting to play two-for-ones and going to some places and play because road wins mean more than home wins.

It has to do with RPI. If you look around, you would see other schools are starting to do it. Those kinds of games will mean something down the road. I believe next year we're looking at going to The Citadel because the year after that we're going to Valpo and East Tennessee State. If I remember correctly, next year I believe we'll have at ECU, at The Citadel, and we go on the road for the Big Ten Challenge.

If you look around, other people are doing that too. What the committee says is if you play everyone at home and win all the games, they say you should always beat them. They don't give you much credit for beating teams at home. If you go on the road you'll get bonus points for beating them on the road. They are trying to drive teams where they can really tell how good teams are. They'll say, "Look at NC State, they went to The Citadel. They want to show everybody they are not afraid of going to play on someone else's court."

It doesn't really matter unless you're on the bubble. If you're on the bubble it helps you. If you're not on the bubble and fourth in the country it doesn't matter where you play them.


Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of our exclusive interview with NC State Athletics Director Lee Fowler, as he discusses both coaching searches, Tom O'Brien, Sidney Lowe, the "lunatic fringe," and much, much more.

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