Since the beginning of the 1992-1993 athletics season, NC State University is the only full-time BCS affiliated institution that has failed to win single conference championship in football, menâ€™s basketball, womenâ€™s basketball or baseball.
Today marks the start of the 57th Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, and perhaps the last of almost 57 attempts for a Lee Fowler-led Athletics Department to win a conference championship in a â€˜majorâ€™ team sport.
To more deeply understand my point, you should click on this link that will take you to one of our most popular entries of all time – â€˜The Unholy Trinityâ€™ (which has now become the â€œUnholy Duoâ€ as Iowa State successfully removed their name from the list this football season). For additional support, you can’t miss this graphical look at ACC & National Championships.
In short, over the last four years, NC State and the University of Colorado are the only two BCS schools that have experienced four straight losing seasons in football while also failing to land a single berth in at least one NCAA Menâ€™s Basketball Tournament.
Some other noteworthy â€˜accomplishmentsâ€™ of NC State’s Athletics Department since the calendar turned to the year 2000 and overlapping Lee Fowlerâ€™s â€˜leadershipâ€™ as NC Stateâ€™s Athletics Director include the following:
- NC State is one of only four BCS schools that have failed to win a conference title in any of the four major revenue or high profile sports – football, menâ€™s basketball, womenâ€™s basketball, baseball along with Texas Tech, Arkansas, and South Florida (who didnâ€™t join the Big East until 2005).
- The Wolfpackâ€™s athletics program is one of only sixteen BCS schools that has failed to win a single team national championship as 50 of the 66 BCS schools (75.8%) have won at least one team national championship in the past ten years.
- Both Kentucky & Kansas State are on that list have great chances to remove themselves in this yearâ€™s NCAA Basketball Tournament.
- After NC State failed to advance to a BCS Bowl game this year we failed to remove ourselves from the historical list of only 8 BCS schools – and the only ACC school – that has never played in any of the four BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange). Since Lee Fowler has been AD in Raleigh, five different ACC programs have represented the conference in BCS games including non-powers Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. (Must be the facilities)
StateFansNation is excited to share with you that as Sidney Loweâ€™s Wolfpack Basketball team attempts to make history in Greensboro as the lowest seeded team to win an ACC Basketball Championship, NC State may finally be moving towards an attempt to raise the University up from being one of the worst major college athletics programs in the country.
If some of the most widely-known â€˜secretsâ€™ in recent memory hold to form, it appears that Lee Fowler may finally be on his to a more permanent perch at his Lake Gaston house without being funded by the taxpayers of the State of North Carolina.
Rumors have evolved for months around Lee Fowlerâ€™s potential, and long overdue departure from NC State. We have allowed some of these conversations to play out on our message boards as we want our readers to always feel free to discuss all topics and want our community forums to be provider of significant value for our readership. But, today, we feel as though it is time to bring the rumors we have been hearing to light with a little more clarity, context and commentary than what you may have picked up on the forums. You have the right to choose to accept or reject the following information and commentary as you see fit:
- You may remember a heightened amount of chatter and discussion about Fowlerâ€™s job security just over a year ago as we headed into Final Four weekend of 2009. This â€˜chatterâ€™ was definitely more than rumor and innuendo as some of the Ministers of Propaganda from the â€˜State Sunshiners Squadâ€™ tried to report to the masses on messages boards.
- At that time, The Board of Trustees finally had enough support to endorse a push on Fowler and for the first time in his tenure, spineless Jim Oblinger had indicated that he would not fight the attempt to work with Fowler to craft a mutually agreed upon exit from NC State.
- Note the point of â€˜mutually agreed uponâ€™ exit. You need to remember that in April of 2007, NCSU’s Board of Einsteins Trustees inexplicably extended Lee Fowlerâ€™s contract through 2013. We couldn’t understand this decision at the time; and it looks even crazier with the benefit of a few more years of pain and suffering. So, problems arose in preliminary conversations as Fowler’s love for money is very and dictated that he wasn’t going to leave easily.
- Fowler has made himself a candidate for at least a half dozen other jobs since he has been at NC State and (obviously) nobody will hire him. Early in his time in Raleigh he took swings at jobs like Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia and even Indiana a few years ago. In recent years, Fowler has quietly been turned down by some smaller schools.
- At his age and with his laughable reputation amongst sports administrators married to his miserable record of few achievements, even Fowler must recognize that the odds are very low that he could ever secure get another jobâ€¦especially if he were â€˜firedâ€™. So, if NC State wanted him gone then we would have to pay him big bucks for his contract because when he leaves his career is effectively over. (Doesnâ€™t it make you feel great that YOU have had the pleasure of this guy running your department all of this time because nobody else in the country was dumb enough to hire him? Can we all thank our Board of Trustees one more time for their stewardship and leadership of our University?)
- The financial and political will to buyout an Athletics Director is not something that most administrators want to deal with at any point in time, let alone in the middle of an economic recession.
- Then the Mary Easely-Jim Oblinger-McQueen Campbell-Board of Trustees scandals broke and the heat lifted off Lee Fowler. Figurative heat, of course; there was plenty of heat on him as he tanned himself of the warm waters of Lake Gaston all of last summer.
- Enter interim Chancellor Woodward. It soon became clear that if Woodward had been made the permanent Chancellor that Fowler would have been one of the first changes made alongside Tom Stafford and the public fiasco with Lennie Barton. But, Chancellor Woodward did not feel it was his place to deal with this major issue at the University.
- A big hole in the story emerges as little is known about the recent interaction of the Board and the interim Chancellor and new Chancellor Woodson. But, if the story holds, the decision was made for Fowler to be gone before Chancellor Woodson arrives on campus.
- We have heard that Chancellor Woodson is scheduled to start at/near the very beginning of April.
- Supposedly there is/was a date in late February/early March that served as some kind of trigger for Fowler that has some form of financial significance to him. This date was key in his acceptance of an agreement to be able to position his departure as a â€˜retirementâ€™/â€™resignationâ€™ instead of a firing as it should have been.
- SFNâ€™s conjecture here is that this special date is somehow tied/linked to state retirement benefits that may come at a ten year anniversary of hire. We donâ€™t know all of the specifics of pension formulas, etc; but, this conjecture makes sense when you consider that Fowler started at NC State on September 5, 2000. So, his 10 year anniversary is coming soon. State of North Carolina policy allows for the rolling accumulation of sick leave and vacation. And, you can bet that Fowler has never claimed a day in his life. So, it is very plausible that he has enough days â€˜bankedâ€™ for him to step away as many as six or seven months ahead of his ten year anniversary.
- For the better part of the last month, the frequency and consistency of rumors related to a Lee Fowler departure has significantly intensified. Many different sources have shared with SFN that Lee Fowler will â€˜retire/resignâ€™ as NC Stateâ€™s Athletics Director at some in the very near future. The scenarios around Fowler’s ultimate departure usually takes the form of one of the two of the following:
- (1) Some of the rumors have Fowler departing NC State in May, coinciding with the end of the school year. This version centers on the premise that Fowler has been given an ultimatum to have found a new job and hit the bricks by the end of the year…or else. This would have Fowler riding into the sunset with another of SFN’s most disliked NC State administrators, Tom Stafford.
- Related to this point – SFN has recently learned that within the last few months Lee Fowler made himself a candidate for the open Athletics Directorship at San Diego State University. Unfortunately for all of us, Fowler was again passed over for the job when Jim Sterk was announced about a month ago.
- (2) The more intense and immediate version of the rumors have Fowler ‘retiring’ next week as the Wolfpackâ€™s basketball season is expected to be completed. The most widely speculated and most logical date of departure would be a Friday afternoon announcement on March 19th as the news and attention to the story would be significantly diluted by the NCAA Tournament first round.
Please note that we are not proclaiming the above bullets as 100% fact or are we proclaiming that these scenarios will ultimately play themselves out in reality as they have been ‘pre-planned. We have not confirmed these stories enough to ‘report’ them to you as ‘news’. But, we do finally feel comfortable enough in the strength of our sources and the momentum of what we are hearing to lay all of this out so that you can form your own set of conclusions.
A particularly interesting observation of the recent developments in this scenario stems from the fact that we were told much of this timeline in November & December of last year – long before the chatter has started to elevate amongst NC State fans and on some message boards. But, what we were told months ago has picked up momentum as the weeks have passed and the story has remained remarkably consistent despite coming from many different sources.
Additionally, Lee Fowlerâ€™s own behavior has served to add to the speculation as he has been conspicuously absent from some key University events including a private reception to welcome Chancellor Woodson after his introduction and the NC State Alumni Association Evening of Stars (at the end of January).
It certainly didnâ€™t help us douse the flames of these rumors when a close friend shared the following observation with us last month:
Maybe totally unrelated, but I have noticed that he has not had the NC State Flag waving in front of his house since Christmas. Before that, it seemed it was always there. A Christmas flag waved during the holidays, but no flag is there now. Can’t say whether the flagpost on the wall is still there.
In the segment, Zarzour takes a very different tack than other local media members and defiantly proclaims that NC State needs to fire Athletics Director, Lee Fowler.
My uneducated and uninformed analysis of the boldness of Zarzour’s comments is — he knows something.
Think about this for a moment. There is no way that any member of the media chooses to begin their first local show calling for the firing of the local Athletics Director – the one that has the power to butter Zarzour’s bread and provide or block access to members of the NC State community.
Zarzour would be committing a form of professional suicide by coming right out of the gate with that kind of talk…
…unless, he had some reason to believe that Lee Fowler wasn’t going to be around very much longer, anyway.
At that point, Zarzour would be playing this thing MASTERFULLY as he can immediately position himself as a both a prophet and an independently free-thinker who is not in the pocket of ‘the man’. What would he have to lose by way of relationships at NC State if there isn’t going to be a Lee Fowler to piss off in the very near future?
I guess only time will tell…