Kennel Delivers Annual Communique To The Masses

Cue the laugh track, here comes Bob Kennel’s annual communique.

Open Letter to Chancellor James Oblinger 23 March 2006

Subject: NC State’s “Institutional Control”

Dear Chancellor Oblinger,
NC State is a Great University, and you are doing an excellent job building upon the strengths of previous Chancellors and taking us even further. Sincere thanks to you.
I am writing concerning our NC State athletic program and some rumblings within our fan base. My family has strongly supported NC State athletics for over 60 years, and I competed for the Wolfpack in the late 50’s one year in basketball and four in football and baseball under four NC Sports Hall of Fame coaches. My red blood runs very deep.
The level of discourse concerning NC State athletics needs to be raised to a higher standard than it currently sits with some media, Internet boards, and some individuals. This is very important for our great institution. It is well known that the general public often simplistically judges sports scores on a win-lose basis while the “scores” for the importance of the Centennial Campus precedent, or 30,000 students entrusted to the University, or Billion Dollar “Achieve” campaign are not known on a daily or seasonal basis.
Recently I have been embarrassed for our University by some of the stories, language, and rumors emanating from the media, Internet, and individuals concerning our men’s basketball team and coach Herb Sendek. But the issue goes far beyond that to the subject of NC State’s “Institutional Control.” NC State has experienced external “gotcha” campaigns going back sixteen years to Coach Valvano, five years to Coach Avent, last year to Coach Sendek, and six months ago to Coach Amato where someone was after a coach’s scalp.
Sixteen years ago we did not have “Institutional Control” when Coach Valvano was dismissed. (I was the President of the Alumni Association at the time and saw first hand how decision making was taken away from NC State because we didn’t have Institutional Control in place). Today we do have it, and fortunately these last-named coaches are still representing NC State very well.
The real question is “What do you do with those who wish to influence hiring and firing decisions of the University outside of Institutional Control?” Following are some thoughts on this subject for three publics with which the University must deal:

MEDIA: NC State is subject to both local and national media, and they will always be with us. It is strange that media outside North Carolina questions why some of our fans want to get rid of a successful coach such as Herb Sendek. Locally, however, we have seen TV, several newspaper writers, and even an anonymous Technician editorial playing up negativity at inopportune times over the past two weeks.

MESSAGE BOARD FANS: Duke and Carolina may have their “WalMart” fans, but NC State has its “Message Board” fans (as well as “radio call-in” fans). Recently there has been a steady drumbeat of posters with “Fire Herb” mentality, with some individuals having literally thousands of separate posts on message boards. They are in the minority; but their anonymous and numerous posts help feed a negative frenzy. I personally interact with many of them under the name “58 Wolf Kennel” to try to reason and to understand what makes them tick. Indeed the Internet message boards are usually enjoyable for information, humor, discussions, and even emotional outlets on many subjects. However when the Internet Board or Blogger mentality tries to effect change by rumor planting or obsessive posts they will come up short in the outcome but can poison the waters in the process. Simple examples involve hurting NC State’s national image, upsetting the families of coaches, and potentially harming recruiting.

IMPORTANT INDIVIDUALS: Every organization from universities to companies to churches has important individuals who influence decisions even though they are not the decision makers themselves. Sometimes they influence by their counsel, sometimes by their financial commitments. NC State is no exception, and NC State athletics has greatly benefited from both influences. For example, the Wolfpack Club provides excellent support for NC State athletics on the basis of such people as do individuals supporting the ACHIEVE Program. Such people are often very strong in their opinions as well as their influence. NC State is fortunate to have very few of its important people who join in the negative feeding frenzies, but it does happen. Sometimes it’s not unlike a good church Deacon who withholds his tithe until the Minister is asked to leave.

INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL: Ultimately this involves the authority and responsibility of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to deal with athletics as well as all other University issues. For athletics this authority line goes through the Athletic Department and NC State Athletic Director Lee Fowler. He is charged with directing a competitive, clean, and cost-effective athletic program that will bring honor to the University. Responsibility for hiring and firing of coaches and other staff reside with the Chancellor and Athletic Director with the concurrence of the Board of Trustees. This is as it should be. The Chancellor may also seek input from his Council on Athletics made up of Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, and Wolfpack Club representatives. (I have had the honor of serving twice on this Council in the mid 1990’s and mid 2000’s, and I believe the overall health of our athletics program is the best it has ever been).

How does NC State judiciously exercise its Institutional Control given loud inputs from the three public “voices” above? After considerable thought, here is how I believe each of the three might be handled.

(a) Media: Continue to be polite but firm that you will make all personnel decisions with inputs from the Athletic Director, advice as desired from the representative Council on Athletics, and concurrence from the Trustees. You might even chide the local media for helping feed some of negative frenzy by often using and being used by the Internet rumor mills. You should assure the national media that NC State has firm Institutional Control of both its athletic programs and its expanded land-grant mission.

(b) Message Board Fans: They should simply be ignored. The anonymous nature of the Message Boards leaves it no credibility in either quality or quantity of posted information. Reason is not their agenda when what they seek is personnel change. There is no appeasement for negative feelings; and debating just inflames the passions. Of course, signed letters and e-mails identifying who and why a position is being taken should always be accepted, but you and your staff must always determine the position you wish to take. There may be a few empty seats. The Wolfpack Club would probably take some temporary heat, possibly with slightly reduced membership or participation at events; but I believe they strongly support your decisions.

(c) Important Individuals: This is the most difficult issue to deal with because such people are usually well thought out as well as influential. Once you and staff have listened to them and formed your own decisions, they will just have to live with it. At one time seven years ago, I did not agree with the timing of Chancellor Fox’s decision on relieving Coach O’Cain and gave her a letter on my reasons (even though not one of the important persons). However, once she made the decision, I fully supported it and told her so. Her decision was difficult but ultimately wise, and she clearly exercised Institutional Control.

There are also clear benefits to the Chancellor in dealing with such athletic issues.

• The NCAA likes to see demonstrations of Institutional Control.
• It’s good for every Chancellor to have on his or her record.
• It shows the University community that you and the AD are responsibly in charge of all our coaches to run competitive, clean, cost-effective programs.
• It also gives an answer to some national perceptions that some of the inmates were loose.

Finally, I wish to state my personal support for whatever decisions you make. I also trust the recommendations that AD Lee Fowler makes and any actions of the Board of Trustees. I have known most members of the Trustees for many years and implicitly trust their judgment as well as their Chair Wendell Murphy. I also believe the Council on Athletics can always be helpful in giving a representative view from the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Wolfpackers.
Congratulations again on the overall job you are doing and wisdom on future decisions as well.


Bob Kennel ‘58

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77 Responses to Kennel Delivers Annual Communique To The Masses

  1. ThomYorkepack 03/30/2006 at 8:07 PM #

    Amazing in its pomposity.

    One thing Mr. Kennel doesn’t realize apparently is that the “anonymous fingers” on the internet keyboards DO have real names, ARE real people, being said human beings, have the ability to communicate with the administration at NC State in a non-anonymous way.

    I have certainly expressed my opinions regarding the basketball program to the Chancellor, the Athletic Director, and the Wolfpack Club–and I certainly did not use ThomYorkepack to do that.

    This thing is like the Pope coming out on the balcony at the Vatican to give his subjects a wave. I’m sure the Chancellor of our wonderful university will give Mr. Kennel’s “advice” its due diligence, and then put it in File 13.

  2. Cardiff Giant 03/30/2006 at 8:13 PM #

    “The anonymous nature of the Message Boards leaves it no credibility in either quality or quantity of posted information. ”

    Dear Bob:

    I think you’re barking.


    Michael C. Byrne

  3. graywolf 03/30/2006 at 8:14 PM #

    Typical Kennel. But, the masses are rising including past players like Tommy Burleson. It’s hard to ignore the masses at length and eventually we will be heard, just look up French History! Remember, “let them eat cake” and the rest is history.

  4. highstick 03/30/2006 at 8:29 PM #

    Want a real name, then! Wayne Terry, 1972 Alumni, now a Gamecock Club member because of Fowler and Sendek, thank you! I won’t even watch you on TV anymore and don’t have any intention of ever giving anymore money, and better than that, will no longer recommend N C State students to be hired in a very large national CPA firm either!!!! The Carolina MAC grads are performing better anyway. Maybe this is a trend!

  5. SaccoV 03/30/2006 at 8:30 PM #

    I really thought this was a joke. I keep reading waiting for the punch line which never came. It’s funny that this one letter in support of a system and a university which has fallen asleep at the wheel is somehow valid. I’m an alumnus to this university just like this blowhard. It’s funny that a guy who went to State so long ago and has been so involved can be so short-sighted to support an incompetent regime. Finally, on a personal note. ESPN Classic had the ’83 NCAA final and I almost started bawling when Charles dunks. Packer and Bender went silent. And I could hear in the background my own wailing tears as I realized that there is no way under God’s skies that NC State will ever acheive that success in basketball again (at least under Fowl-dek!!!).

  6. ushum 03/30/2006 at 8:32 PM #

    I swear I use to think the guy just liked to try to get under people’s skin and surely he couldn’t think as highly of himself as he does…

    I mean I could see if he was Murphy, Vaughan, or Dail…

  7. old13 03/30/2006 at 8:33 PM #

    Gee, he graduated ten years before I did, but does not seem to have left the 50’s yet. No wonder NCSU athletics operates on a medieval level with a clown for a “leader” if this is the type of people who “run” the school!

  8. NCBP 03/30/2006 at 8:45 PM #

    really it’s comical they way he instructs our Chancellor

  9. Cardiff Giant 03/30/2006 at 8:53 PM #

    old13, as usual you hit the nail on the head.

  10. Grumpy Llama 03/30/2006 at 8:57 PM #

    “Message Board Fans: They should simply be ignored.” Ignore the fan base? I believe there’s already a check mark in that column, Bob.

  11. Mick 03/30/2006 at 9:04 PM #

    He is changing tactics!

    He used to praise Herb as nauseum. Ten seeds of greatness. Wooden comparisons. Other tripe.

    For Kennel, it’s all about trying to prevent some remote negative publicity. It’s fear based. Not winning in sports is OK with him as long as we are seen to be “clean”, whatever the hell that means. I have news for Mr. Kennel. It is quite possible to hire a coach capable of winning something of substance while maintaining a “clean” program.

    He never met a coach who he thought should be terminated, except for Jimmy V (God rest his soul).

  12. PackisBack 03/30/2006 at 9:15 PM #

    I would bet Kennel was active in the hiring of Sendek. That has got to be some internal sympathy based behind these letters.

  13. crpagpalp 03/30/2006 at 9:20 PM #

    “It is well known that the general public often simplistically judges sports scores on a win-lose basis”

    How else should judge sports scores but on a win-loss basis. The letter just spews of arrogance. Funny how the man feels the need to write a letter supporting Herb every year.

  14. 427HEVN 03/30/2006 at 9:21 PM #

    A Jimmy V hater such as Kennel gets no respect from me. I’m an alumni of North Carolina State University same as Kennel. My opinion deserves the same respect as his in my book, no matter how I express it.

    I’ve sent my letters to the WPC and AD, but on a daily basis, I’ll post here.


    L Scott Dettman
    BA Econ BA Business Mgmt 88

  15. Jim 03/30/2006 at 9:34 PM #

    Is it just me or does it seem like it takes 3 hours to read one of his rambling pieces of garbage?

    Reading that thing was like reading the longest, most boring anatomical chapter in Moby Dick.

  16. Wuf62 03/30/2006 at 9:37 PM #

    I know the chancellor awaited Bob’s advice with bated breath, and he will apply the recommendations with great dispatch. I guess I, too, am not an “important individual.” Im just a guy who has been a wolfpacker for over fifty years, a WPC member for over twenty years, a season football ticket holder (now LTR) for over twenty years, and LTR basketball ticket holder since the RBC opened. Half of that time I lived over 500 miles from Raleigh. What I see going on with the basketball program is certainly not criminal, but it is a demoralizing comedown to go to the RBC and realize how much one is shelling out to watch the same old plodding, pulling eye teeth exercises. Winning is ugly half the time, and to get blown out by Seton Hall and Carolina on your home court is the “unkindest cut of all.” With all due respect ot you, Bob, the message board people aren’t “just a few.” Go mingle with the paying customers at the next big game (You’ll have to wait until January because Herb’s early schedule doesn’t elicit anything but yawns.), and you will hear from just about all corners that Herb’s system is a losing proposition in big time basketball. Yeah, I know I can pack it in, but my allegiance goes way back before Herb and our Institutional Control. I think about Everett Case, the Dixie Classics, C.A. Dillon, Mrs Ronald Butler at the organ in Reynolds, Bill Jackson, Wally Ausley, to name a few. No, Herb’s ineptitude isn’t going to run me off. Herb will go. I’ll wager that he doesn’t even measure up to my low expectations next year. (If you should read this, Bob, I’m an old Delta Sig named Jerry Setzer, class of 62.)

  17. Keith Harper 03/30/2006 at 9:50 PM #

    Kennel reminds me of some profs and alumni of the small Pennsylvania university from which I graduated. They attended all the the important games and events, but they did not no what the final score was in most cases. The particular event was just a social mixer–a place to see and be seen. Kennel must have a nice box at the RBC and in the Vaughn Tower and in the end that is what is most important to him and his ilk.

  18. Chemba 03/30/2006 at 9:56 PM #

    How did SFN obtain this?

  19. Joe 03/30/2006 at 10:11 PM #

    It came from the Packpride premium BB board.

  20. Only One 03/30/2006 at 10:14 PM #


    notice his quote “one time seven years ago, I did not agree with the timing of Chancellor Fox’s decision on relieving Coach O’Cain and gave her a letter on my reasons “. so this jerk basically is PROUD of his support for an incompetent coach.

    Kennel is a loser. He’s a loudmouthed proponent of the TRUE lunatic fringe- fowler and the herbians who are holding our school hostage.

    He makes me ashamed to wear my state gear

  21. lumberpack 03/30/2006 at 11:24 PM #

    Well, at least Bob stays consistant.

    Bob is the epitome of what is wrong with the University and what has held it back for the last 20 years.

  22. Sammy Kent 03/30/2006 at 11:49 PM #

    “Reason is not their agenda when what they seek is personnel change. There is no appeasement for negative feelings; and debating just inflames the passions.”

    Bob Kennel proves once again that he doesn’t know schmatz about what motivates the “message board fans.” I’ll agree with one thing: debating just inflames the passions when the arguements presented are of the incredibly and bizarrely stupid variety Kennel presents. I’m not surprised that Kennel’s advice is to ignore them….Fowler already ignores all but the few high rollers that agree with him. Kennel’s likening of the NC State message board fans to the Wal-Marters of UNC-CH is just another of his thinly-veiled smokescreens to mask what he’s too duplicitious to come right out and say: these people should be ignored because I disagree with them.

    Mr. Kennel, it’s a pity you can’t write to the Chancellor and simply tell him whether you think Herb is a coach worth keeping without impugning the integrity of other folks simply because they share contrary views. That’s all I’ve done, and it’s what I suspect most of us on this side of the issue have done. I’ve written the Chancellor with my opinion on Coach Sendek, but I haven’t denigrated those that think differently or tried to paint your ilk in any bad light. It takes only a coward to hide behind brown-nosing platitudes just for the purpose of maligning others. But you have done it well.

    “The anonymous nature of the Message Boards leaves it no credibility in either quality or quantity of posted information.”

    This is just utterly stupid. An idiotic statement is no less idiotic because someone’s name is attached to it. The truth is no less the truth because it has a screen name attached to it. But hey Bob, I post with my real name on this site. If that is all it takes to give my opinions credibility, wonderful. My opinion is that Herb Sendek is a lousy coach and should be gone. And my opinion of you, Mr. Kennel, is that you’re just an arrogant, self-serving, ass-kissing, brown-nosing putz.

  23. Cardiac95 03/30/2006 at 11:51 PM #

    That absolutely reeks of the “old media” (CBS, NBC, ABC, NYT) attitude towards the “new media” (talk radio, internet message boards, blogosphere). You can pretend it doesn’t matter, turn your nose up at it, & rant about how unqualified it is. But at the end of the day, it looks & sounds more like fear than anything else.

    My take is that they’re scared s—less that this whole thing will take an even uglier turn than it already has.

    And they’re probably right!

  24. ncsumatman 03/31/2006 at 2:14 AM #

    Mat Benton, 3rd year law student University of Alabama, 2002 NCSU grad, future TidePride donor, f the WPC.

  25. David Bruce 03/31/2006 at 6:09 AM #

    I’ve never questioned Herb’s integrity or his ethics but I do question the direction of the basketball program. Is the program regressing? I don’t think so but I do think what we’ve seen is what we will see. Lots of victories in the early season against weak opponents, the normal fade at the end of the season, win and lose by the three point shot, NO rebounding and little if any improvement by the ‘bigs” year over year.
    I guess if the same is ok …
    David Bruce
    ’79 NCSU

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