Part III: Q&A With Lee Fowler

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Last week Pack Pride met with NC State Athletic Director Lee Fowler and asked him questions submitted by our premium subscribers. Here is the final segment 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.

    How do you really feel about the Internet, message boards, and blogs? Could you develop with a discussion component where people use their real names along with their real thoughts?
    We need to talk about [developing with a discussion component]... that would be great.

    I don't take any notice to anonymous letters. You don't know who they are or where they are from. There is no background there. I don't think the police or anyone else gives much credence to those. I think I would have a lot more interest in a forum where I know they know, have, and present all the facts. I think sometimes on the Internet information is stated where there are enough facts there that it may seem like it's true, but all of it may not be true.

    I know you can't answer every question all the time, but I think at times there is information out there that may not be true where it's spread so much that people take it as the truth and it's not even true.

    "Those sort of things are what kind of destroys you and breaks your soul."

    For instance, I don't know which blog it was on but it's been stated out there that I'm one of the highest-paid ADs in the country. I think it was stated on one of those blogs that I was fourth in the country and the highest-paid in the ACC. Here is a copy of the ACC's salary survey. My base salary is 12th in the ACC. My overall salary is 11th in the ACC. That's the kind of "facts" that are out there being spread around on those sort of blogs and such. Then someone will see them and state that I am the highest-paid AD in the ACC, which as this document proves, is no where near the truth. Those sort of things are what kind of destroys you and breaks your soul. People are able to say things and spread things on these blogs that aren't factual. Those sort of things make it tough.

    Have you heard of any of your coaches ever experiencing negative recruiting based on Internet comments?
    When Herb left, and we were in the coaching search, the parents of the kids who didn't come here commented to me how what the fans were saying about coach Sendek was ridiculous. They went on to say they didn't know if they wanted their kids to play here with fans like that. Now, it's like I said, it may not even be our true fans. It could be fans of anyone, that goes back to what I was referring to when I mentioned anonymous people.

    I remember that situation and there is the kid from here locally who made the comment in the N&O saying that if he didn't come here Sidney [Lowe] might lose his job or whatever. There's nothing there you can fight. It's part of our environment and you just have to live with it and do the best that you can with it.

    What are your thoughts on the landscape of college basketball and how it now appears like coaches are being asked to win right away whereas coaches used to be allowed more time to build their programs?
    It's the landscape of all sports. What have you done for me lately? It takes four or five years to get all your players in place. You've got to get juniors and seniors in place and building that winning program doesn't happen over night. With that being said, you may have a great year on the way if things go right or break well for you. I know there are examples of this school or that school who have done it quicker, but if you look at the overall landscape, that's not what normally happens to solidify exactly where you want to end up. But, like I said, people want it today and not tomorrow.

    "We want to be about winning championships."

    In basketball, the first year of success, reaching the ACC finals, making a run late in the year... all those things led to the anticipation of the second year. Add to that the signing of J.J. [Hickson] and the expectations probably got ahead of where they should have been.

    But, that's okay too. It's what we want to be about. We want to be about winning championships. We want to be expected to be in the top three of this league in basketball. You can't say that is a negative.

    It's funny because if the media picks you 12th and you finish 3rd, there is not a lot written about how dumb the media is or was when it came to predictions. When they pick you 3rd and you end up 12th, you hear how the media is real smart because you should have been 3rd but you ended up 12th. It's all about where you put the credibility on it.

    With this program, Sidney is doing to do a fine job. He will do great. It takes a little time to build your own program, especially in this conference.

    Do you use the Director's Cup as a measuring stick for success? If so, can you explain the downward trend that State has been on over the past few years? Have you talked to fellow land grant university ADs, such as Ohio State and Florida, about how their programs are always ranked near the top spot in the Director's Cup?
    First of all our budget is no where near the budgets of those schools even though we've done a great job ourselves because our budget was really low. The top 25 teams in the Director's Cup, their average budget was over 60 million dollars. That's the average between the top 25 schools. Ours was 33 million, and that doesn't include scholarships. We're spending and have to spend half of what, on average, those teams have to spend. Teams like Ohio State can spend over 100 million a year because their stadium sits over 100,000. Financially, they have a lot more [power] to buy homes games... I'm not trying to tell you we shouldn't be in the top 25, I'm just saying there is a difference when it comes to the programs you asked me about. It's not just about being land grant universities. There are a lot of other factors involved.

    The Director's Cup is really about having well-rounded programs based on NCAA Tournament participation. It started in 1993, and we were 59th that first year. We've been 37th,34th,57th,43rd,63rd, and 40th before I arrived here. I started in October of my first year and we finished 56th that year followed by 46th, 43rd, 39th, 51st, 34th, and 44th. I know this year we are currently ranked 66th, but that was before our spring sports and we've always done well in the spring.

    "Our spring sports have had good years."

    I know people on the message boards are probably using that to say I'm not doing very well, but let's just wait until the year is over and see where we end up. I don't know where we'll be, but I do know our spring sports have had good years so I assume that we will improve and not go down. Since I've been here the worst was 56th, and that was my first year when I arrived after the school year had started. Outside of that our worst was 51st, so we've been, for the most part, consistently in the 30s and 40s when it comes to the Director's Cup.

    Also, we are in the best conference academically and the best conference overall athletically. I believe it's the best conference in the country. I know the expectations of our fans are to be #1 in the conference in every sport, but we are also competing against some of the best programs in this country. I believe at this point in time, Virginia has won the most conference championships this year with five. [North] Carolina has won four. Somebody else has won three, and then it goes to two. Everybody else has one or none. Eight of the schools have one championship or none in all the sports this year.

    On a recent radio show you were asked about how NC State's sports information department seemed to not be on the level of other local universities. The host of the show said it would be unfair to compare NC State's to those at Duke and UNC because those people at those schools are "the best in the business" and it would be like comparing "the Yankees" (the other schools) to "the Royals" (NC State). Is that an acceptable status quo for our sports information and marketing departments to say that NC State is not at their level nor should it be expected to provide the quality that those schools provide?
    Actually, one of the guys he mentioned isn't even the SID over there anymore. He doesn't even have that job. He's not even there.

    All I know is what we have. Annabelle [Meyers] is very well respected among the people I know in the media, both nationally and locally. The national people constantly are calling and telling me how great of a job she does.

    I don't worry about who they have or what they have. We've just got to do the best we can do.

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