Part II: Q&A With Lee Fowler

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Earlier this week Pack Pride met with NC State Athletic Director Lee Fowler and asked him questions submitted by our premium subscribers. Here is part II of our three-part interview with the Wolfpack's AD!


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

    NOTE: The questions asked were submitted by our premium subscribers.

    Was NC State aware of the North Carolina State Fair opening on the same day as this year's home NC State-Florida State football game? Did NC State have any input in this decision?
    We told them that we would stay off the two Saturdays. We put that game on Thursday because that is a game that we believed we could play on Thursday. They are now telling us that in the future they may start opening up on that first Thursday, so in the future we may stay off that Thursday also.

    When we scheduled it for Thursday they hadn't talked about having that day as a soft opening... the fair doesn't open until Friday that next morning. It shouldn't be an issue but they are having a soft opening so I assume they are trying to get some of our crowd to spill over for their soft opening.

    It should not be a huge issue. We'll stay off the Saturday's for the fair. It's a happy marriage between us and them. In the future, they would like us to stay off Thursdays, and we didn't know they were going to have that soft opening this year when we scheduled the game. We hadn't been told of that.

    "We are in the process of trying to pay off what all we've built now."

    Have you and Tom O'Brien talked about possibly adding more seats to Carter-Finley Stadium or any other expansions in the near future? What is in store for the East side of the stadium? Has there been anything new on an indoor practice facility?
    There hasn't been a lot on the indoor practice facility. We are in the process of trying to pay off what all we've built now. I think the Murphy Center has two or three years remaining before it is paid off.

    I think a lot of people missed it, but we spent about five million dollars on the entire stadium, and that includes the east side. We put rails in and we renovated the concrete, that is supposed to now last us another 30 years. That is why it now looks like it was all built about the same time. We did those concrete renovations and the rails, and I think fans probably didn't notice because they went to every other stadium and they had rails... we just never had them. I know we need to do some restrooms on the East side... the renovations on the West side and put in new restrooms. We'll look at that in the future, but at this point, there is nothing on the drawing board.

    It's safe to say that we all feel the facilities are heading in the right direction in most, if not all, of the programs. Do you think it is time now for programs to be measured more on a win/loss scenario given the facilities across the board appear to be on a more level-playing field?
    I said when I came here that we needed to get our facilities up to par. We've done that now. We have competitive facilities. Now I am going to take a different approach with coaches and how long they have given how long they've been here. We are going to set some minimum standards, and we are going to notify each coach of what we expect of them individually. Therefore, they will be put on a shorter timeline.

    I think there is no question about that. With my administrators, we are already starting the process of letting each coach know what their respective expectations are. We've always done that, but now that we feel like we are on a more level-playing field when it comes to facilities, we ought to be more specific about the bottom-end of what we expect. We are always playing for championships. We are always playing for top three in the conference. Those types of things the coaches are already aware of.

    I am encouraged by a lot of our sports because we are starting to see individual athletes make it... the tennis players, the golf players. We rarely had that happen... either the team went or nobody did. We are starting to see better athletes, All-American type athletes, coming here into our programs. I think that has a lot to do with building programs that can compete overall on a national level.

    "It's about winning."

    To answer your question, yes, coaches realize now they are going to have to produce because that is what it is all about. It's about winning. That is what is important to me and also important to the Wolfpackers donating the money.

    Why does is seem like the Athletic Department is so reluctant to answer in a swift and decisive manner when attacked or poorly portrayed by the media (the latest example is the hack job by the N&O on the Collge Inn)? UNC's SID somehow manages to deflect any such criticisms even when they are more than warranted.
    It's tough to attack the papers. They have big barrells of ink. All we ask is to be fair. We have a good relationship with Orage Quarles, the paper's publisher. He manages the paper, but he doesn't do the editoring. Actually, on May 28th, the coaches, me, and Annabelle are going down to meet with the editors. We've done it twice before, but on May 28th, Tom, Sidney, and I are going down to meet with the editors for lunch. That's going to create even more of a working relationship with them.

    I think with that article you mentioned, we were very involved with giving them information, but the information they wanted wasn't there. We kept telling them that... that it wasn't really a story. They stood by their story that the tax exempt was the main part, even though that was in a seperate story, not the one about the College Inn.

    What is your long-term vision for the athletics program at NC State? Do the athletics programs have specific benchmarks they need to meet?
    Yes. Some teams that didn't have facilities hadn't been placed on those requirements, but now all programs are on those requirements and have benchmarks. You've got to do this, this, and this, but I'm not going to tell everybody publicly what they are. The coaches will know it. They are on notice if they don't do these things in a couple of years after the facilities have set in. It will be a lot more, on paper, of here is what you have to do. We've always had goals, but it was a little difficult without those facilities to hold them accountable completely with that. That is no longer the case.

    "Adidas has been very good for us."

    My goals have always been to be in the top three in the conference. If you're in the top three you always have a chance to win the championship. That's an obvious goal as well. Minimum goals, we don't want to be in the bottom-half of anything.. the bottom-half in any sport. We want to be above that in all sports, and that's what we want all our coaches to realize. It will be more different now than it was. It already is in some sports because coaches have been told you have to do this and you have to do that.

    Now with all of them having the facilities in place, they will understand even more our goals and how much we want to win and they will be held accountable for it.

    How much longer is the contract with Adidas? When can we expect a department-wide contract with a shoe company? Can you talk about the decision to leave the CLC for a smaller organization that generally handles licensing for smaller schools?
    We've talked and continue to talk with Adidas about [a department-wide contract]. They are giving us more and more equipment for all our other sports. Anybody that is already with Adidas equipment... they are giving us all of that. Financially, we are in a much better situation with Adidas than we were with Nike. The Adidas [deal] is probably worth over a million dollars more a year than what we were receiving from Nike four years ago so financially we are much better off as an athletics department being with Adidas.

    I don't know the complete issue with NC State and Nike under Jimmy V, of course the other two [programs] have Nike, but there was some sort of falling out. Adidas has been very good for us and every year they do a great job of replacing stuff and giving us equipment. It's been a great situation for us.

    Regarding CLC, I don't make that final decision, Cindy Sears and the university makes that decision, but we felt like we were basically not getting attention from [the CLC]. It appeared like whatever sold... it just sold. These folks, (LRG), sold us on the idea that they were going to get out and really push our product. They've done a great job of bringing in more revenue than we've had in the past and have sold more products. Yes, they may generally handle licensing for smaller schools but it's like we're their bell cow... we are the ones they are out there pushing to the public. They are out there pushing NC State. We're not in Los Angeles and we're not in New York, but we're much more in our state, in our airports... more than we ever were before.

    The other guys just sort of took their check each year, and we never felt they were really pushing our product. That was the reason for the change. These guys are out there leading the charge for NC State. It has been very positive for us.


    Stay tuned tomorrow for Part III of our exclusive interview with NC State Athletics Director Lee Fowler.

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