(Wake Forest Athletics Director Ron) Wellman will soon complete his 17th year as the director of athletics at Wake Forest University. The university’s teams have flourished under him, winning conference and national championships while generally exceeding expectations for the smallest school in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the smallest to play major-college football.
Welcome back from vacation! What a better way than to jump right into reality with a slap to the face to wake you up. You need to READ THIS ARTICLE and then come back here to read a little more about Street & Smith’s AD of the year in 2008.
In the 17 years since, Wake Forest has won ACC championships in baseball (3), field hockey (3), basketball (2), women’s golf (3), men’s cross country (2), women’s cross country (1) and football (1), and NCAA championships in field hockey (3) and men’s soccer (1). The program regularly ranks in the top 50 among Division I schools in the NACD Directors Cup, finishing as high as No. 23 in 2007.
Anyone who last visited campus or the area around Deacon Boulevard in 1992 wouldn’t recognize either place today. Almost every athletics building, stadium or practice facility has been built, bought or renovated in the last 17 years, with the crown jewel of the improvements — the $45 million Deacon Tower — opening at BB&T Field before the 2008 football season.
I honestly don’t even want to type anything in this entry as I could talk for hours about the case study in true LEADERSHIP that Ron Wellman’s success provides anyone with half a brain. I don’t know where to begin contrasting the character, success and respect of Wellman that is so diametrically opposite from what we have in Raleigh and whom the last
crook Chancellor awarded for ‘excellence’.
The ‘sad’ comparisons only begin with the fact that Wellman turned down the very Athletics Directorship at Tennessee that Lee Fowler couldn’t get offered despite throwing his name into consideration (along with Georgia…and Ohio State…and Indiana…and a couple of others…and those are just the ones that we know about!)
Wellman could hide behind small size and therefore very small resources. He doesn’t.
He could hide behind the fact that Winston-Salem isn’t all that appealing of a place for college athletes. He doesn’t.
He could have hidden behind poor ‘fuhcilities’ with limited resources to improve them. He doesn’t.
He could have hidden behind the academic restrictions of a private school. He doesn’t.
He could have hidden behind the ‘tradition’ that his football program DOESN’T have as a reason why they can’t be good. He doesn’t.
He could hide behind how close Wake Forest sits on the basketball map compared to big, bad Duke and Carolina. He doesn’t. Quite the opposite. After reading that article, and quotes like the following…
“I just don’t know if anybody has done more with perhaps not as many resources as other people in this league. He really has. And I think because he sort of lets us know: ‘We’re not going to be Little Wake Forest. We want to compete for championships.’ And I think we all understand coming in here that to do that, at times, we have to overachieve. He has overachieved I think at what he does, and therefore I think it trickles down to us as well.”
…could you ever imagine the following spewing from Wellman’s mouth like it did from Lee Fowler’s (in many different forms on mulitple occassions).
“Our fans are comparing ourselves to Duke and North Carolina. Every program in the country doesn’t do well when you’re compared with those two on a day-to-day basis. I understand that our fans want to be able to compete with them; we all do. But you can be real good on a daily basis and not be better than those two programs.”
Now…imagine if Wellman actually ‘knew basketball’!?! Seriously. Could you imagine how good Wake Forest could be if Wellman ‘knew basketball’ like the esteemed “Coach Fowler”.
(Sidebar: Just curious, does Ron Wellman insist that people call him “Coach” like Uncle Jed? Seriously. Since Ron Wellman was ACTUALLY a SUCCESSFUL HEAD COACH of a major college program – that wasn’t stripped of all of its awards by the NCAA for being one of the dirtiest in history – wouldn’t one stand to reason that everyone would just naturally call Mr. Wellman “Coach”? That is what we are told about “Coach Fowler”; he doesn’t really ask people to do so…they just all happen to do it on their own. So, surely Wellman is also referred to as “Coach Wellman” at Wake Forest.)
Forget the fact that Jim Grobe has won an ACC Championship and taken Wake Forest FOOTBALL to the Orange Bowl despite their lack of tradition and the challenges they face as the smallest school playing Division One football.
Let’s just focus on ‘I know Basketball’ for a moment and allow me to share with you a statistic that will crystallize how good Ron Wellman is at what he does and how far behind NC State has lagged despite many fans’ delusions.
In those ‘great’ Herb Sendek years when Lee Fowler was telling any and every one how good our program was, NC State managed to earn a ranking in the AP Top 25 for a grand total of 35 weeks. Of those weeks, Sendek’s teams NEVER once reached a Top 10 ranking, peaking at #13 on January 2, 2006.
You surely remember the weak out of conference schedules that were generally comprised of cupcakes in November and December, resulting in bloated rankings in the national polls before we really had to play good teams? That resulted in the Wolfpack achieving a ranking better than #15 only three times after games started being played in January..
Under Ron Wellman’s directorship, Wake Forest University has achieved an AP ranking of at least #2 in the country under the guidance of THREE DIFFERENT COACHES. (Two of Wake’s coaches – Prosser & Gaudio – reached the pinnacle of a #1 ranking during this time while Dave Odom peaked at #2 in 1996-1997 while in the process of winning back to back Atlantic Coast Conference Championships.)
You have to let that sink in for a moment.
Despite the supposed ‘difficulty’ of competing with tough Carolina and Duke (and don’t forget 2002 National Champion, Maryland)…Wake Forest has managed to obtain at least a #2 national ranking under
one, two, THREE DIFFERENT basketball coaches while NC State has managed to be ranked better than #15 only three different weeks after January!
- Under Ron Wellman, Wake Forest’s basketball program has achieved a Top 10 ranking for a total of 77 weeks, in 9 different seasons, under the leadership of three different coaches.
- Under Lee ‘I know Basketball’ Fowler, NC State’s basketball program has achieved a Top 10 ranking for a total of zero weeks, in 10 different seasons, under the leadership of two different coaches.
“And I think he has earned it by the consistency he has had over the years, by the standards he sets for himself and those around him, by his capabilities administratively, which are enormous, by the manner in which he treats people, and the manner in which he conducts himself. When you put all that together, what you have is one heck of a fine athletic director.”
Conduct? You mean like voluntarily calling radio stations to discuss Cougars?
…I could go on forever…and I recognize that sometimes it feels like I do.