The State of State Part Two–Improvement

Disclaimer: Only facts and statistics will be stated below, you the reader can draw your own conclusions and opinions.

Did NC State’s athletic programs make progress and do better this school year than they did last year? One metric (and certainly not the only one) is to look at regular season conference standings.

State competes in 21 different ACC sports plus gymnastics (EAGL) and rifle (SEARC & GARC). In the 2007-2008 school year, 6 out of those 23 programs finished higher in their conference standings than they did the year before, 11 finished worse and 6 maintained the same standing. All 12 ACC schools compete in the sport unless indicated.

Programs that improved their conference standing in 07-08:
• Football—10th to 8th
• Baseball—6th to 4th
• W Golf—7th to 6th (out of 9 schools)
• W Swimming—10th to 8th (out of 11 schools)
• W Tennis—8th to 7th
• W Indoor Track—11th to 7th

Programs that maintained the same conference standing in 07-08:
• M Golf—7th (out of 11 schools)
• M Soccer—9th (out of 9 schools)
• M Swimming—7th (out of 11 schools)
• M Outdoor Track—3rd
• Volleyball—12th
• Rifle—1st SEARC (out of 6 schools) / 7th GARC (out of 8 schools)

Programs that had declining conference standing in 07-08:
• M Basketball—10th to 11th
• W Basketball—3rd to 8th
• M Cross Country—1st to 2nd
• W Cross Country—1st to 2nd
• W Soccer—8th to 11th (out of 11 schools)
• Softball—2nd to 5th (out of 8 schools)
• M Tennis—7th to 8th
• W Outdoor Track—10th to 11th
• M Indoor Track—3rd to 6th
• Wrestling—1st to 5th (out of 6 schools)
• Gymnastics—1st to 2nd (out of 8 schools)

Some summary statistics for 2007-08:
• 26.1% of State’s programs improved their conference standing
• 26.1% of State’s programs maintained their conference standing
• 47.8% of State’s programs had their conference standing decline
• 52.2% of State’s programs improved or maintained their conference standing
• 73.9% of State’s programs did not improve their conference standing

Along the same lines, here are some conference standing trends for the eight year time span Lee Fowler has been AD (Rifle is not included).

Two programs had or tied their best conference finish in 2007-08:
• W Tennis—7th
• M Outdoor Track—3rd

Eight programs had or tied their best conference finish within the past two years:
• W Basketball—3rd
• M Cross Country—1st
• W Cross Country—1st
• M Tennis—7th
• W Tennis—7th
• M Outdoor Track—3rd
• M Indoor Track—3rd
• Gymnastics—1st

Ten programs had or tied their worst conference finish in 2007-08:
• M Basketball—11th
• W Basketball—8th
• M Golf—7th
• M Soccer—9th
• W Soccer—11th
• Softball—5th
• M Swimming—7th
• W Outdoor Track—11th
• Volleyball—12th
• Wrestling—5th

Fourteen programs had or tied their worst conference finish within the past two years:
• Football—10th
• M Basketball—11th
• W Basketball—8th
• M Golf—7th
• W Golf—7th
• M Soccer—9th
• W Soccer—11th
• Softball—5th
• M Swimming—7th
• W Swimming—10th
• W Outdoor Track—11th
• W Indoor Track—11th
• Volleyball—12th
• Wrestling—5th

Some additional summary statistics for Lee Fowler’s eight years (not including Rifle):

  • 9.1% of State’s programs had or tied their best conference finish in 2007-08
  • 36.4% of State’s programs had or tied their best conference finish within the past 2 years
  • 45.5% of State’s programs had or tied their worst conference finish in 2007-08
  • 63.6% of State’s programs had or tied their worst conference finish within the past 2 years
  • In the past two years, every program except for Baseball either had or tied their best conference finish OR their worst conference finish and W Basketball did both.

    The ACC finish for M Swimming, W Swimming and Wrestling is based on their ACC championship result and not their win/loss record standing.

    Rifle data is not included in the 2nd part of this analysis for two reasons:
    • Rifle competes in both the Southeastern Air Rifle Conference (SEARC) and the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC).
    • Complete historical data for Rifle could not be found. The GARC website only has final results for the past two years and no website appears to exist for the SEARC. There is a link on for the Rifle media guide, however it leads to a blank page stating “No News”.

    Coming Soon in Part Three: Lee Fowler sets some standards for State’s athletic programs. Will they meet those standards?

    About WV Wolf

    Graduated from NCSU in 1996 with a degree in statistics. Born and inbred in West "By God" Virginia and now live in Raleigh where I spend my time watching the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as making bar graphs for SFN. I'm @wvncsu on the Twitter machine.

    AD & Department Baseball General NC State Administration NCS Basketball NCS Football Non-Revenue Stat of the Day

    45 Responses to The State of State Part Two–Improvement

    1. wufpup76 05/21/2008 at 10:39 PM #

      Very nice work … thanks for putting all of this together

    2. ncsuftw01 05/21/2008 at 10:41 PM #

      “Lee Fowler sets some standards for State’s athletic programs. Will they meet those standards?”

      If you mean facilities, absolutely.

    3. Wulfpack 05/22/2008 at 6:17 AM #

      You are making a very convincing argument. Problem is, there is no court to hear it.

    4. StateFans 05/22/2008 at 7:19 AM #

      These numbers are amazing. And, you are doing a fantastic job of attacking all areas.

      For many reasons – I have always struggled with the arbitrary and subjective use of “improvement” as a criteria of judgement for athletics. One reason is that quite often the initial performance upon which is being “improved” is/was unacceptable to begin with. By shifting standards to “improvement” then the arbiter is effectively pardoning poor performance.

      I accept the use of “improvement” as a standard in the first 2 to 4 years of the tenure of a leader…after that xtraordinary situations should exist for improvement to matter.

      Anyone who works in the ‘real world’ with a corporate job would KILL to have a 2 to 4 year ‘grace period’ where simple ‘improvement’ was a criteria.

      The people in West Raleigh have no idea how cush they have it. Or, do they?

    5. choppack1 05/22/2008 at 7:34 AM #

      Based on this, 5 of our sports finished in the top 3rd of the conference, 11 finished in the middle and 6 in the bottom 3rd. (I didn’t count rifle.)

      What’s really interesting is that if you drill down further on that middle 3rd, you’ll find that 9 of those 11 were in the bottom half of that middle…Simply put, our athletic department was “mediocre” in the worst possible way.

    6. Ed89 05/22/2008 at 7:58 AM #

      Interesting analysis, but let’s face it — we REALLY only care about Football and Basketball – and we’ve sucked pretty bad the last couple of years in both. Yes, it’s nice to do well in the others, and you definitely don’t want to be the door mat, but if we start winning in the two revenue sports, all will be well. Big “IF”, but TOB may be LF’s saving grace. I predict some pleasant surprises in basketball, but PLLEEEEAASSE get here FOOTBALL SEASON!!!!

    7. Ed89 05/22/2008 at 8:06 AM #

      Another possible small reason is again, our 2 revenue sports have NOT been good. I think that hurts recruiting in other sports, as well as number of applications for the general student body (as has been mentioned before). People (esp. H.S. kids and H.S. athletes) like winners, they want to join winners, they feel being around winners will help them be a winner, and they are right (I won’t mention examples of how this works in H.S. basketball recruiting, but you all know what I mean). Hang around winners, become one — Hang around losers, you’ll probably be one….we just need to get on a winning track in Football and Basketball and that will help. I don’t think we’ll EVER be a top 5-10 overall athletic program (for many different reasons), but we could easily stay in the top 20-25 year in/year out.

    8. WV Wolf 05/22/2008 at 8:59 AM #

      My thought behind looking at these numbers was that all we heard for years was that we couldn’t expect to compete until we had the proper facilities in place. Now that they are in place, are we seeing any sort of upward trend showing that they’re making a difference?

      Logic would seem to dictate that if you, for example, build better tennis facilites to attract better tennis players that at some point your tennis program will be better.

      For this past season, overall I’d have to say that the facilities upgrades haven’t made much impact as far as conference standing. Over the past two years, I’d have to say sometimes they have but there is no consistancy yet.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that “best finish” doesn’t always mean good and “worst finish” doesn’t always mean bad.

    9. baxman 05/22/2008 at 9:24 AM #

      Great stuff, WV Wolf.

      I would be interested to see what kind of salary these non-revenue coaches are making. For instance, the volleyball coach – how much is she getting paid to run the equivalent of an intramural program? Is she getting paid significantly more than an NC State PE teacher? If so, I’d like to know why.

      Nothing against the volleyball coach, it’s just the lowest hanging fruit considering the overall record recently.

    10. IMFletcherWolf 05/22/2008 at 9:31 AM #

      During this past basketball season I compiled some stats that I would like to share. I gathered them primarily from the ACC Media Guide. Someone please correct me if they see anything inaccurate.

      Composite ACC Conference Standings 1954-1990:
      (1990 being V’s last season. These are conference records only)

      UNC 371-128
      Duke 298-198
      NCSU 282-210
      MD 239-258
      WFU 220-280
      UVA 193-300
      GT 65-87 (1980?-1990)
      Clem 170-327

      As you can see, State is solidly in 3rd place and closely behind Duke for 2nd. Then the bottom falls out:

      Composite Standings 1991-1999

      UNC 100-42
      Duke 100-42
      WFU 83-59
      MD 72-70
      GT 65-77
      UVA 63-79
      FSU 56-72 (1992-1999)
      Clem 50-92
      NCSU 43-99

      State in last place. Even Florida State playing one less season has more wins.

      Composite Standings 1991-2008 (Conf games only)

      Duke 211-75
      UNC 191-95
      MD 159-127
      WFU 157-129
      GT 128-158
      UVA 127-159
      NCSU 109-177
      FSU 107-165 (1992-2008)
      Clem 97-189

      I did not include the newer expansion teams in these standings.

      I does not take a math major to see how far the basketball team has fallen in the last 17 years compared to the previous years.

      The 2000-08 record is better than years 1991-1999, but then again anthing is better than LAST PLACE!

      Discuss …

    11. IMFletcherWolf 05/22/2008 at 9:40 AM #

      I forgot to include the standings for seasons 1999-00 to 2007-08. I believe these are the “Fowler Years”

      Duke 111-33
      UNC 91-53
      MD 87-57
      WFU 74-70
      NCSU 66-78
      UVA 64-80
      GT 63-81
      FSU 51-93
      Clem 47-97

      Trying to compare apples to apples I did not include BC, Miami, or VT.

    12. howlie 05/22/2008 at 11:03 AM #

      “• 73.9% of State’s programs did not improve their conference standing”

      Statistics can paint any sort of picture. Actually, If you are WFU, Carolina, or Duke… and have ^THAT^ statistic, it is not necessarily “failure.” IF your athletic programs–across the board–are in the Top 2 to 3 in the conference, “NOT IMPROVING” is not a bad thing.

      When your entire program is in an overflowing septic drain field and you “do not improve,” well…

      I could finish the sentence, but “if I told you, I would have to shoot you.”

    13. Daily Update 05/22/2008 at 11:06 AM #

      IM Fletcher: I think Fowlers first year was actually the 00-01 basketball season. Can you fix that? Good numbers.

      As far as revenue sports, we have hit twenty year lows for football based on losing seasons. If we should have another next year, then you are talking reaching some historical lows going back to the 1950s. There has only been a handful of times that we have had 4 losing seasons in five years.

      And this is with improvements to CF.

    14. Cardiac95 05/22/2008 at 11:22 AM #

      I’m sure it was removed a long time ago, but in an early Fowler interview on, he stated his goal was to be “Top 3 in the conference in every sport” (pre-expansion conference that is).

      We don’t hear much about that any more…

    15. PackerInRussia 05/22/2008 at 11:25 AM #

      I would guess most good businesses crunch these types of numbers to measure their success on a regular basis. If someone in the AD did something like this, it would be hard to continue to receive votes of confidence, awards, paychecks, etc. However, since very broad and general explanations and promises suffice, that would lead me to believe that there are no such internal analyses (spell check is telling me I spelled that wrong, but I thought for sure that was the correct spelling of the plural of “analysis”). Even when I ran a dinky little YMCA program I used surveys and numbers and percentages to evaluate our program. I will admit that I use to not have any problem with Lee Fowler and thought that he was only catching flack from vitriolic HS-haters who were bitter b/c he hadn’t fired him yet. However, since becoming a regular reader of this site a few years ago and reading such articles at this, it leaves me no other conclusion that there is a job that is not getting done and there is no accountability for the lack of progress. Either that or progress is only defined in terms of $$ and facility improvements in which case the job is getting done. If you want to talk about what’s being done with that $$ though, then a problem arises.

    16. choppack1 05/22/2008 at 11:36 AM #

      I guess here’s a very simple way of looking at this.

      There are 22 sports – we are in the bottom half of the ACC in 17 of them:
      1. Football—10th to 8th
      2. Golf—7th to 6th (out of 9 schools)
      3. W Swimming—10th to 8th (out of 11 schools)
      4. W Tennis—8th to 7th
      5. W Indoor Track—11th to 7th
      6. M Golf—7th (out of 11 schools)
      7. M Soccer—9th (out of 9 schools)
      8. M Swimming—7th (out of 11 schools)
      9. Volleyball—12th
      10. M Basketball—10th to 11th
      11. W Basketball—3rd to 8th
      12. W Soccer—8th to 11th (out of 11 schools)
      13. Softball—2nd to 5th (out of 8 schools)
      14. M Tennis—7th to 8th
      15. W Outdoor Track—10th to 11th
      16. M Indoor Track—3rd to 6th
      17. Wrestling—1st to 5th (out of 6 schools)

      *That’s 17 of the 22 sports that we finish in the bottom half of the conference.
      *77% of the sports that we play vs. the ACC we finish in teh bottom half of the conference.
      *Keep in mind, we recently expanded picking up 3 schools who haven’t had the luxury of sharing in the ACC revenue to help build their facilities, improve their coaching salaries and increasing their salary. Don’t expect them to suck like we do for long.

      *But here’s how Fowler, Oblinger and the Senate Faculty will spin our Athletic Department results, “WE ARE IN THE TOP OR MIDDLE TIER OF 16 OF 22 SPORTS. GREAT JOB LEE!!!”

    17. IMFletcherWolf 05/22/2008 at 11:37 AM #

      May 22nd, 2008 at 11:06 am
      IM Fletcher: I think Fowlers first year was actually the 00-01 basketball season. Can you fix that? Good numbers

      You may be correct … I compiled the numbers a few months ago and was not using Mr. Fowler’s tenure as my starting point. Rather the year 2000 was a nice round year and it was 3-4 years into our old ball coach’s stay here.

    18. SMD 05/22/2008 at 11:40 AM #

      OK – reading all this great data, I came up with an idea (perhaps not original, but I have not seen it discussed on here yet.)

      We are right in the middle of caravan season. The big one in Raleigh is next week.

      Why not make a one page flyer with punch up graphics showing some of these numbers and hand it out at the caravan meetings? Heck, put it at every place setting. It doesn’t need to be snotty, it doesn’t need to say “Show Jed the door..” (as great as that would be… 🙂 ) It just needs to make Wolfpack nation aware of these numbers that are frankly startling. The fire will spread from there.

      I am *strongly* thinking of taking such an action.

    19. redfred2 05/22/2008 at 11:46 AM #

      Great stats, thanks WV Wolf!!!

      IrwinMFletcher, I started typing a post at lunch time yesterday that was asking for someone to do a statistical comparison from the pre-1990 era, versus right now, but I didn’t have time to finish typing it. Thank you!

      I think what may be even more telling is that with all of the high brow, goody two shoes attitudes roaming around and receiving paychecks in Raleigh since the 90’s, and I may be wrong here, but I also believe that if you check on the academics standings, NC State has fallen off the previous mark there also.

      It’s a self perpetuating string that have so entrenched their own “just show up” mentality so deeply into every facet of NC State University, that it will take forever to purge it from the system.

      Side note: “Big “IF”, but TOB may be LF’s saving grace.”

      That would be like saying that a bum who hasn’t ever work hard enough in his lifetime, is now considered a great provider for his family because he lucked up and won the lottery. Lee Fowler doesn’t get off for anything because of TOB, not in my book anyway. TOB is an unearned gift.

    20. WolftownVA81 05/22/2008 at 11:47 AM #

      I’m real glad the focus is shifting away from just the revenue sports (though that’s what many, including myself really care about.) By showing results in all sports, a total picture of department wide failure is clearly painted. Even if football and basketball were to turn around over night, its not fair to all the kids playing their hearts out in the other sports to have to live with the kind of coaching that is responsible for these horrible numbers. Yea, I want to see wining football and basketball, but I’d like for NCSU to excel in all areas (all sports, academics and yes even facilities.)

    21. WV Wolf 05/22/2008 at 12:01 PM #

      choppack1–you’ve just given a preview of Part 3. My stats differ on one sport, M Outdoor Track finishing 6th out of 12 is in the top half. But otherwise, great minds think alike.

      And while trying to find Rifle stats, was oh so helpful as usual with their dead link for the media guide.

    22. choppack1 05/22/2008 at 12:01 PM #

      Wolftown – I think showing the entire picture is the only way to go. Why? If these results were good, Lee and Oblinger would be the first guys to point to them as 1) proof that their spending spree is bringing results and 2) demonstrate that Lee is doing a good job managing the entire athletic department.

      But clearly, measuring the success or the lack thereof of ALL sports is another way to quantify whether or not an athletic director is doing his/her job.

      If your revenue sports are kicking arse, then you are probably meeting the expectations of the majority of your “external” customers. But it would be easy to make a case that you were doing a solid job if you were achieving good results in these areas, coupled w/ solid academic performance and an athletic department that is w/in NCAA compliance guidelines.

      However, these results, WV’s part 1 article – and some research that I’ve done in our overall Sears Cup standings, don’t demonstrate evidence of overall improvement for our athletic departments. In addittion, we were the only school in the ACC to be punished for not meeting the APR thresholds.

      Sadly, this doesn’t appear to constitute proof to the University’s power brokers. It looks like Lee needs to be found beating and robbing a homeless person to lose his job.

    23. WolftownVA81 05/22/2008 at 12:11 PM #

      ^Chopack1, I agree. That’s what I was trying to say. Lets hope these statistics get the entire Wolfpack Nation energized to show their displeasure with results obtained during LF’s time at the helm (I won’t use the word leadership.) The broader the scope of the review, the broader the support for LF,s ouster will be as most people actually like winning from time to time no matter what their sport.

    24. Daily Update 05/22/2008 at 12:11 PM #

      What I would really like to see/do is develop trend lines and bar charts for each sport since Fowler’s arrival. Also not along the timeline key pieces of information like coaching changes, facility improvements completed, significant players leaving, etc….

      Something nice and neat and makes it visual.

    25. old13 05/22/2008 at 12:16 PM #

      MAF = “ACHIEVE”

      JLO = “FAIL” (apparently); or at most = “DO NOTHING”!

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