A quick note — the majority of this entry was originally written around the later part of last summer (2009) after the athletics department released their annual report. For whatever reason the entry never got posted and then got lost in the shuffle during football and basketball season. So, please take that time frame into account when it refers to “this year” and “last year” since – at that point in time – NC State hadn’t won an ACC title in two years (We have since added a cross country ACC Championship) and the passing of Kay Yow was a little more timely. Regardless of the timing, we think this is great work and think you will enjoy the “lost” entry. Please open copies of the linked report to follow along.
Last year I read through the athletics department annual report and noticed that the womenâ€™s swimming and diving team was left off the list of teams that participated in the post season. I found that omission completely unacceptable and was therefore prompted to see what else in the report was either ignored or factually incorrect. As I read and explored and checked numbers and statistics I was embarrassed by NC State’s Athletics Department because of both the content as well as the quality of style/format of what I saw.
I wasn’t the only one. As you can see from the hilarious graphic below created by “oldtrenchfighter”, a member of Pack Pride’s message boards, quite a few people have concluded that Lee Fowler’s Annual Athletic Reports are nothing short of sad in the past.
Last year, I emailed a letter to Lee Fowler breaking down the factual errors and other problems I had with the report. Youâ€™ll be shocked to learn that “Coach” Fowlerâ€™s response was a mere: â€œThanks for your support and comments! Go Pack!â€
The athletics department annual report for 2008-09 is now out and since my private letter didnâ€™t seem to do much good last year I may as well go public this year.
The page on gopack.com linking to the annual report with a release date of 6-25-2009 says: â€œThe NC State University Athletics Department annual report for the 2007-08 year is now available to view here.â€ I guess it was too much trouble to update the text from last year to read â€œ2008-09â€. At least the the link does take you to this yearâ€™s report even if they can’t label it correctly.
Speaking of report links, letâ€™s take a look at the Gopack.com’s webpage for annual reports where there are eight total links. The last five links do not work. This was pointed out in my letter to Fowler last year, but the links still have not been corrected. Oh well, let’s turn to the report.
Why don’t we start at the literal beginning of the report – the cover. The cover where Lee Fowler’s name is plastered…Twice. Just in case once isn’t enough.
Moving to the overview on page one — The very first sentence of the report summarizes that:
“There are many positives to point out as we finish another year of competition and growth
Competitively, we had 12 of our programs participate in postseason play”.
Their record shows that the previous year saw 15 programs participate in postseason play. Apparently going from 15 to 12 is “growth”…only at NC State. (But, at least we didn’t see the subjective phrase “show progress”!)
The overview also states: â€œWe also developed a new mission statement along with written values, principles and goals which will serve as valuable guidelines to achieve excellence.â€ Unfortunately, that is all that you will learn about that because the mission statement and all of those written values, principles and goals were not included in the report. Annual reports from other schools (more on that later) that mention mission statements usually go to the actual trouble of printing said statement.
But hereâ€™s the thing in the overview that is just pathetic — The only mention that Kay Yow received in the entire report was that Kellie Harper is expected to build upon the tradition Coach Yow established. With all that Coach Yow has meant to our university youâ€™d think her passing just months earlier would merit at least one measly sentence; especially when a retiring faculty athletics representative earned an entire paragraph in the report. What an absolute disgrace. Then Fowler signs his name again in case you missed it on the cover.
Remaining on page one, letâ€™s look at the finance section. Last yearâ€™s report states:
â€œThe department expects revenue to exceed expenses by approximately $550,000, increasing the operating reserve to $950,000.â€
This yearâ€™s report states:
â€œRevenues of $39.1 million will exceed expenses by approximately $650,000, increasing the operating reserves to $1,175,000.â€
If our operating reserve was at $950,000 at the end of last year and we added $650,000 this year, doesnâ€™t that add up to $1,600,000 and not $1,175,000? Can anyone explain what happened to that $425,000 difference?
If youâ€™re playing along at home, after one page and the cover, the “Lee Fowler” name count stands at four, while his picture count sits at two…and we haven’t even turned to page two yet.
In section B under “Ticket Revenue” on page 2, the report states that ticket sales for menâ€™s basketball â€œhave remained consistent over the last five years with a slight drop-off in 2008-2009.â€ If you look at the chart, season ticket sales for Menâ€™s Basketball fell from 14,200 to 12,500. Apparently losing 12% of your season ticket base (1700 fans) is only â€œa slight drop-offâ€.
Continuing in section B under Ticket Revenue, the report states what appears to be another odd incongruence between conclusion and reality: â€œAn extra home game, mini-packages and group sales helped maintain overall revenue.â€ But when analyzing the numbers in the chart you will find that Menâ€™s Basketball ticket revenue was not ‘maintained’, it actually decreased $100,000. The chart also says that we had 16 home games (plus two exhibition games) in 07-08 and 18 home games (plus two exhibition games) in 08-09. To me, â€œan extra home gameâ€ means one game, but doesnâ€™t 18 minus 16 equal two extra home games? How hard is it to screw up 18 minus 16??
Moving on to Wolfpack Club Fundraising on page two — I will just copy and paste this paragraph from the letter I sent Fowler last year because nothing has changed in the report despite my attempt to proofread the report for the Department:
â€œIn the table the total giving amounts for 2003 and 2005 sum correctly, 2006 and 2007 are off by $0.1 million (which could be a result of rounding) but the 2004 amounts total to $20.9 million instead of the listed $21.6 million, a difference of $700,000. The numbers in the table should have been double checked or it should have been indicated that there are other unlisted amounts that contribute to the total.â€
A year after pointing this out to Fowler, the numbers are exactly the same and still donâ€™t add correctly. However, we did manage to go an entire page without printing Lee Fowlerâ€™s name or picture. So weâ€™ve got that going for us. Which is nice.
Turning to Academics on page three is a complaint from last yearâ€™s report that still remains. Under section C, Postgraduate Scholarships/Achievements, the report tells us that four applicants received postgraduate ACC scholarships, two applicants received NCAA postgraduate scholarships, we had 16 members of the All ACC Academic Teams, five Phi Kappa Phi honorees and two Phi Betta Kappa honorees.
So youâ€™re probably wondering which student athletes won these awards? Well keep on wondering because actually printing their names in the report was apparently too much trouble. But Lee Fowlerâ€™s name and picture both show up on page three, putting the name count at five and the picture count at three. You can’t make this stuff up. There is no space for names of our student athletes succeeding in the classroom, but there is room for a photo-op of Lee Fowler with Russell Wilson.
Page four is actually in pretty good shape. At least the report actually listed all the postseason programs this year. As mentioned at the top, last yearâ€™s report omitted womenâ€™s swimming and diving from the list of postseason sports despite finishing 43rd in the NCAAs. In another surprising move, Fowlerâ€™s name and picture donâ€™t appear on page four either.
Page five had to be one of Fowlerâ€™s favorites as it is mostly about facilities. The report makes mention of new scoreboards at the Isenhour Tennis Center, Reynolds Coliseum and Doak Field but nothing about the brand new HD scoreboard that is being installed at the RBC Center. Probably because the Carolina Hurricanes and CanesVision have taken ownership of it and Fowler canâ€™t take the credit as his own.
The major staff changes are listed on page five and Kellie Harper replacing a legend that died of cancer is treated the same way as Steve Springthorpe replacing a womenâ€™s soccer coach with a lousy record. And again, a professor leaving the athletics council is given more recognition than the passing of Kay Yow.
As much as we all love Russell Wilson, I donâ€™t think it is fair to single him out in the Special Recognition section for being All-ACC first team when there were other athletes that made first team All-ACC, like golfer Lauren Doughtie for example, that arenâ€™t recognized for the same accomplishment.
By the way, this is now two straight pages without Fowlerâ€™s name or picture. Donâ€™t worry though, the next page will pick up the slack.
Special Initiatives on page six is the last page. In section A focused on hosting postseason tournaments, there is a quote from Fowler stating â€œNaturally itâ€™s a great benefit for our teams if they are in the tournament field when we host, but it goes beyond that. Hosting generates a lot of recognition for NC State as well as tourism for our region.â€
You know what else would generate some recognition? How about winning one lousy, stinking ACC title in something, anything? Which we havenâ€™t done in two years — the first two year span in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference that NC State failed to win a conference championship. EVERY other school in the ACC is winning conference and national championships, but donâ€™t worry, NC State is kicking butt at…wait for it…wait for it….tourism!
Section B on page six ticks me off to no end. The Annual Lee Fowler Charity Golf Classic. Iâ€™ll copy and paste from last yearâ€™s letter to Fowler because my feelings have not changed:
â€œWhile I applaud you for your efforts in supporting the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease, that has absolutely nothing to do with the performance of our athletic department. If the intent was to show how NC State athletics gives back to the community, where was the mention of the programs the student-athletes participate in, such as Toys for Tots? In my opinion, including the golf tournament info and only that comes off as nothing but an attempt to make yourself look better.â€
So, Fowlerâ€™s name appears four more times on page six for a total of nine mentions in the report along with four total pictures. By contrast, only five different NC State student-athletes got their name printed in the entire report, up from a sickening two student-athletes last year.
As you can see, the report is sloppy and full of numbers that don’t compute. While it has a little less clip art and is two pages longer than last year, this report continues to resemble a glorified church bulletin (and that is no disrespect to church bulletins, especially when my mother helps to put together the bulletin at their church).
But, NC Stateâ€™s report looks even worse when you compare it to the annual reports produced by other schools. Below are links to the latest reports I could find for other ACC schools, plus West Virginia (because Iâ€™m a Mountaineer by birth), Notre Dame (because it weighs in at a whopping 130 pages compared to NC Stateâ€™s seven) and Appalachian State (an in-state I-AA school):
Boston College 04-05 (9 pages)
Clemson 07-08 (34 pages)
Duke 06-07 (28 pages)
Georgia Tech 07-08 (27 pages)
Maryland 05-06 (55 pages)
Virginia 07-08 (56 pages)
West Virginia 07-08 (48 pages)
Notre Dame 07-08 (130 pages)
Appalachian State 07-08 (20 pages)
I think Georgia Techâ€™s annual report is a fine example of what NC Stateâ€™s annual report should have been. First, it looks like a professional publication. It actually prints the athletics departmentâ€™s mission statement. It devotes an entire page to two athletes that won national awards. It lists every single student athlete that graduated. Student athlete programs and community service gets two entire pages. There is an overview of the athletics departmentâ€™s accomplishments as well as a one page summary for each sport. And there is information on financials and board members. All in a manageable length of 27 pages. The ADâ€™s picture only shows up once every 13.5 pages, unlike our AD that has his picture in the report every 1.75 pages. And itâ€™s not just Georgia Tech, the reports from other schools linked above have similar content and quality. Open up and just glance through any of those reports and the difference in quality and professionalism from Stateâ€™s report is drastic.
What dearth of pride, skill and commitment must one possess to produce something this awful?
I would genuinely hope and expect every professor at NC State University to fail a student who would submit such a comparably horrible work product for a class assignment. Yet, at NC State, lead administrators who make over $300,000 a year and run $50 million budgets are allowed to get away with this? Excuse me, not ‘get away with this'; but, win the Chancellor’s award for ‘Excellence’ for this kind of work.
Could you imagine producing this type of inaccurate, self-focused, shoddy document for even the most benign internal meeting at your place of employment? Now imagine that tens of thousands of people are going to view and judge a document you are responsible to produce. Would you ever feel comfortable putting this together and submitting it to anyone?
Now imagine that hundreds of companies in your industry publicly file similar reports, providing you a clear standard to to reach. It boggles the mind that the people in the Athletics Department are so (1) disconnected from reality or (2) complacent or (3) comfortable or (4) devoid of pride or (5) safe in their job evaluations. Is it any wonder that after ten years of this kind of ‘leadership’ from Lee Fowler that longtime, passionate Wolfpackers are resigning from the Wolfpack Club causing donations to finally decline, following suit with the Alumni Association’s contracting member rolls?
Don’t NC State’s student-athletes deserve better than this? While there hasn’t been as much success as we would like, these kids still put on the Red and White and do their best to live up to Tom O’Brien’s goals of being “champions in the classroom, in the community and on the football field” or whatever surface on which they compete. They deserve more respect than this. We all deserve more respect and pride of authorship than this.
Putting my critique of the annual report out here on SFN will probably accomplish the same result as my letter directly to Fowler last year, which is absolutely nothing. But at least this year somebody might read it.
â€œThanks for your support and comments! Go Pack!â€ (Now shut up and go write us a check.)