Top 10 Questions for Lee Fowler

On’s premium message boards, there is a thread that was posted on February 28th that states that “next week” their magazine will be conducting a Q&A with Athletics Director, Lee Fowler for the April issue of the website’s magazine. They asked if the readers had any serious questions for Fowler.

Today is March 3rd and has posted an article titled “Q&A with Lee Fowler” that states, “We?ve provided five of the questions below, and check the April 2005 issue of Pack Pride for the full interview.”

Well…I guess I misinterpret the meaning of “next week” as badly as I do Herb Sendek’s coaching record. How does ‘we are interviewing Lee Fowler NEXT WEEK’ become we are interviewing Lee Fowler tomorrow?

Since I made the mistake of not realizing that folks at NC State understand the length of a week as much as they understand how to judge the successful tenure of a coach, I did not get the opportunity to share the questions that I would have liked to have asked of Fowler.

The following are my serious questions for Lee Fowler that I would literally pay money to get honest answers. I can imagine that many of these questions will be answered in “politician style” – where the question is asked and then Fowler will discuss the question as opposed to truly answering it. But, it is worth a shot. The following is what I would want asked of Fowler in hopes to get real answers (had PackPride not misrepresented the date of their actual interview): —-

(1) In 2001, you made an almost unprecedented decision to retain Herb Sendek after 5 consecutive years of failure to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. At that time, and since then, you have cited the strength of that year’s incoming recruiting class as a major piece of your decision.

Do you believe that the results generated since that decision truly justify making such an unprecedented decision? Are the results generated over the last four years above or below what you expected when you made such an extraordinary decision? Are the results generated over the last four years above or below what you expected of the #3 recruiting class in the entire nation that has been complemented 2 other Top 20 recruiting classes?

(2) In February of 2004, you were asked in The Wolfpacker Magazine to define metrics by which you judge coaches and programs. Your answers were full of unquantifiable, subjective statements.

Do you not think that it is beneficial to have clearly defined performance goals for your direct reports? What are your on the court/on the field performance expectations for NC State’s basketball / football programs over an average 3-year or 5-year or 10-year period?

(3a) As a follow-up to (#2)…if Fowler does not share actual performance metrics -“why do you not feel as though the NC State community of fans that you serve does not deserve to have tangible, measurable performance goals required of the coaches at NC State?

(3b) As a follow-up to (#2)…if Fowler does share some metrics – do any repercussions exist for coaches that fail to reach your stated performance goals?

(4) Considering your close association with major NCAA violations at Memphis State in the 1980s, would you ever exclude a potential coach’s candidacy based on past historical problems with the NCAA? Do you have a policy regarding coaches with affiliations to NCAA problems?

(5) Will you pledge that you will not allow yourself to become a candidate for any other Athletics Directorship in the coming five years?

(6) Pretend that God came down from heaven and said the following: “In the next 10 years, if Herb Sendek remains the coach of NC State, the Wolfpack will finish 4th-6th in the ACC every single year with varying ACC records of 7-9, 8-8, and 9-7; additionally, State will advance to the NCAA Tournament every year but lose in the first round 5 times and lose in the second round another 5 times. I will not tell you what performance that another coach will produce.”

Would you choose to accept that performance for ten years or would you choose to change coaches and strive for something better?

(7) Let’s assume that one of your programs has what is considered by most to be a generally “good, solid, average” coach that is generating average to mediocre results.

If you were presented with the clear opportunity to hire a coach whose national reputation is significantly more respected and prominent and whom has delivered historical results at lesser programs that dwarf the results of your current coach — would you take the opportunity to improve that position on your team and upgrade coaches?

Why or why not?

(7b) If the answer is that he would stick with the current coach – Please justify why NC State does not deserve the absolute best coach available to run its program? How can you claim that your goal for our programs is success if you are not willing to make rational moves to help facilitate that success?

(8) On January 13, 2001, you were quoted in the Charlotte Observer as saying the following:

?I?m not saying I don?t care what (outspoken fans) think, but I?ve got a background in basketball, and you hear things about everybody. ?The one thing I ask (of) Wolfpack fans is support your coach. Fans want a national championship. The way Herb?s doing things, when we do get there – and I don?t think it?s far away – it will stay there.”

4 years ago you stated that you didn’t think that a National Championship was “that far away”. In the four years since those statements were made, NC State has entered the ACC Tournament assured of an NCAA Tournament berth only one time; the exact same number of times that we have managed to finish the season ranked (at #20)

Can you be more clear with your statement today? How far away is the program from competing for a National Championship today?

(9) Additionally, you stated that because of the way you felt that “Herb was doing things” that when “we get there — we will stay there.”

NC State clearly peaked in the Herb Sendek’s 8th attempt at competing on a national stage with an RPI around #17 in the country and an 11-5 ACC record. This season the program is struggling to earn an NCAA berth again and our RPI is around #80 (around #65 under the old formula).

How could you have been so wrong in your assessment that “when we get there — we will stay there”? What historical basis or other analytical metric do you base such a statement on?

In 3 of the last 4 years NC State has entered the last week of the season (and the ACC Tournament) needing victories to earn a spot just to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Is the NCAA Bubble, and not National Championship competition, what you were referring to when you said that we would be “staying there”?

(#10) A wise man once said that “those foolish enough to ignore history are doomed to repeat it”.

Herb Sendek has coached at NC State for nine years. In that time he has:
* won zero championships.
* finished the season ranked only one time.
* earned a non-bubble NCAA bid only once.
* is 23-66 in the regular season against NCAA Tournament Teams (and 10-20 in the last 3 years that you cite as so successful)
* has accumulated 59% of his victories against teams ranked worse than #100 in the RPI

If Herb Sendek coaches at NC State for a 10th year, he will enter a club that includes 16 other coaches who have coached in the ACC for at least a decade. Sendek’s career achievements at State would rank no better than #15 out of those 17 coaches and most would claim #16 out of the 17 coaches. (Bill Gibson of Virginia from 1964 to 1974 is clearly the worst coach ever)

What do you know about the future that makes it so easy for you to disregard the actual events of the past? How do you feel about being the Athletics Director to support the worst 10-year Basketball results the ACC has experienced in the last 30 years and the next to worse in the 50+ year history of the conference? If you were going to hire an Assistant Athletics Director to come work for you, how would view steadfast, unabashed support of that kind of performance?

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7 Responses to Top 10 Questions for Lee Fowler

  1. newswolf 03/03/2005 at 10:11 PM #

    Lee Fowler: “Well I just think Herb Sendek is a good guy. He wins ball games, and does it the right way”

  2. blpack 03/03/2005 at 10:52 PM #

    As to the point as those questions are, I think he would dance around them and leave almost as many as questions as before. I like the questions with various parts depending on his answers. Let’s get the NEZ built and then he may look around at other opportunities.

  3. EQSlick 03/04/2005 at 8:56 AM #

    Why not send him the questions anyway and ask him to respond? The worst he could do is ignore you. You can rest assured, however, that he would answer these questions with more circular talking than he did with Pack Pride’s set.

    Author Response: James @ PackPride asked the same thing of me. But, sending the questions would not generate adequate responses.

    First, sending the questions via email will create written responses. Written responses are invaribaly shorter and not as complete as verbal reponses. Especially with this guy…who will talk until he falls asleep if a microphone is in the room. Look at those long responses in PackPride’s Q&A article. You’d never get that kind of color and elaboration from submitting written questions.

    The other issue is “follow-up”. Interviews can be more like conversations than exculsively “Q&A” with the right kind of follow-up questions when the interviewee takes you down a path that was not predetermined. You don’t get the kind of interaction with written questions.

    It’s not a big deal. Most of these questions would have never been asked in PackPride’s interview, anyway. If they were, I can hardly imagine them following up with clarifying and probing follow-up questions.

  4. John 03/04/2005 at 10:06 AM #

    I want to see Lee answer those questions. I’m not joking when I say that I’m beginning to dislike him. I don’t blame Herb for anything. He is doing the best job that he can. I blame Lee for not holding Herb accountable and for holding LTR holders hostage.

  5. Washington Wolf 03/04/2005 at 10:16 AM #

    My question would be, You were once quoted as saying that NC State fans who wanted to get rid of Herb Sendek were part of a ‘lunatic fringe’. Why did you stoop so low as to insult the very people whose hard earned money goes to contributions that pay your salary?

  6. BJD95 03/04/2005 at 1:48 PM #

    OK, who wants to call Fowler’s office and say that Jeff from StateFansNation has a few questions for him – when can we set up a call? I’d pay to hear that conversation…

  7. Spencer 03/08/2005 at 12:42 PM #

    Here is your chance Wolfpack Fans to ask the questions to Lee Fowler Live!

    Members and Guests:

    Our speaker on Wednesday March 9 will be Lee Fowler, Athletic Director for NC State University. Since Lee Fowler was named Director of Athletics in September of 2000, he has spearheaded an unprecedented capital building program to renew and revitalize virtually every major athletics venue and support facility. The athletics facility master plan calls for $100-$120 million in new construction and renovations through the year 2005.

    Please come and join us to hear about NC State Athletics.

    See you Wednesday!

    Michael Lawson, President 2004-2005 Season

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