Questions for Lee Fowler [FINAL Update @ 7:30am]

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Lee Fowler is going to be a guest on 850TheBuzz tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 8am. The good men at 850 have suggested that we ask our readers for questions to pose to our fearless ‘leader’ as opposed to only taking calls from the same old group of listeners.

With this said, we are asking that you please use the comments section of this entry to add questions of your own to the mix. We are 100% serious and would very much like your support/suggestions.

PLEASE keep the comments section void of any commentary as we only want a rolling list of questions. Additionally, please don’t feel the need to be cute or rude as our goal here is to truly add some value and not offend people with rants or comments that are out of the bounds of decorum.

You may need to post this entry to your FaceBook page &/or email it around to your friends since it is late in the day as will probably not reach that many readers (as most of our traffic comes earlier in the day)

Thanks so much!


SFN Commentary: IMHO, the primary hallmark of a great interview is NOT necessarily the quality of the initial question; the keys to great interviews lie in the (1) follow-up questions generated from an interviewer who is obviously listening to the interviewee and (2) the perseverance of the interviewer to not allow the interviewee to get off easy with vague answers and attempts to re-frame questions to match what it is they want to say instead of answering the question.

As I look at the questions submitted during this exercise, there is no doubt that the bulk of NC State fans seek clarity and some direct answers on a host of topics. They seek some honest talk and accountability for performance.

I certainly hope the interviewers choose to take the high road and challenge “Coach Fowler” with follow-ups and push for clarity.

The following are some ‘current’ questions that we have come up with to get the ball rolling:


(1) How much money has been (a) pledged; (b) raised; and (c) spent on facilities since you have been at State?


(2) What 5 to 10 programs do you view as NC State’s ‘peer group’? In other words, what subset of institutions do you use as comparables when you benchmark and compare performances, behaviors and Athletics Departments?


(3) What is your justification/explanation for the fact that NC State finished 74th in the Directors’ Cup standings, ranking 11th of 12 ACC programs;58th out of the 66 BCS schools and finishing behind 16 non-BCS schools (including 4 Ivy League schools that do not offer athletic scholarships)? This is not just a one year occurrence; last season’s performance was almost as bad. Do you have any explanations for the recent slide in the program’s overall performance after so much money has been invested into capital projects during your tenure?


(4) Last season NC State had 15 programs compete in postseason play while this year there were only 12. The athletics department annual report stated that “There are many positives to point out as we finish another year of competition and growth.” How can going from 15 to 12 postseason programs be considered “growth”, especially when 3 of the 4 revenue sports did not make the postseason?


(5) With the importance of facilities being such a primary focus during your tenure in Raleigh, how do you explain the fact and any correlations that 2 of our 3 individual national champions (Kristen Davies and Matt Hill) were able to win those championships despite not having an on-campus place to practice while so many of the sports who have received facilities upgrades have fallen further behind the competition even after the investments?


(6) In your 9 years as Athletics Director at State, 77 schools including 10 of the other 11 ACC schools have won at least one team national championship. After almost a decade in your position, can you provide State fans any time frame where we could start to expect that one or more of our programs to compete at a national championship level? Which couple of sports would you project as being closest to winning us a championship like our peers have done?


(7) For the first time in since the formation of the ACC, NC State has gone consecutive years without winning a single ACC title. What would you say to any current or former Wolfpack Club members who have never experienced this performance in over 55 years? Would you understand if they chose not to donate during those two years and will not donate again until State wins another ACC championship?


(8) I have three current statistics comparing the performance of major sports at NC State with comparable programs. In the nine years that you have been Athletics Director at NC State:

  • every ACC program except the Wolfpack has participated in at least one of the following major team events: a BCS Bowl, a National Championship Basketball Game, a College World Series, &/or a Frozen Four.
  • NC State is one of only three BCS schools to not win their respective conference title in either football, men’s or women’s basketball, or baseball? Texas Tech and Arkansas are the others, and they at least have tied/won a division title in football, with Arkansas’s baseball program making it to the College World Series as well
  • NC State has achieved a Top 10 ranking in either of the two high profile sports – football and men’s basketball – for only a single week – that week coming during the 2002 football season.

(a) With these facts in mind, do you have any strategies or tactics, or is there any special focus on trying to bring State’s program from absolute lowest performing of all major (BCS) athletics programs?

(b) Now that all of the facilities have been completed (for years) in basketball, football and baseball, what is it that is holding your program back from achieving a measure of success comparable to so many other programs?


(9) For the first five years of your tenure at NC State you vigorously defended Coach Sendek against criticism by stating (paraphrasing) that you ‘know basketball and know people in basketball and our program was both well respected and on very solid ground’.

Given your well documented belief that our overall program was so exceptionally solid under Coach Sendek, why did you choose to offer Coach Lowe an unconventional six year contract when he was hired and state that he/we needed extra time to transition and build a new program? If our program was as strong as you believed under Coach Sendek, why did Coach Lowe need a stronger contract? What makes NC State so different from the way that everyone else runs their programs?


(10) I have personally seen, read, heard you asked to define metrics by which you judge coaches and programs dozens of times. The answers that you have provided have been somewhat inconsistent and changed through the years. As an example, the February of 2004 edition of the The Wolfpacker Magazine asked you to define metrics by which you judge coaches and programs and your answers were full of unquantifiable, subjective statements.

Can you take this opportunity go on the record with a clear set of metrics and performance goals that you set for coaches and programs? More specifically, outline what you expect NC State’s Basketball program and NC State’s football program to achieve over an average 5-year and 10-year period.


(11) NC State chooses to use Wolfpack Sports Marketing as our broadcast/marketing partner where most major programs appear to choose national platforms like ISP or Learfield Communications. What are the key drivers behind our decision to go with perhaps a less sophisticated partner than other programs? What does WSM offer that the more established national platforms do not?

Relatedly, how many of your peers have their own television show like you have in our agreement with Wolfpack Sports Marketing. Do you receive compensation for your show? If so, how much?


(12) On January 13, 2001, you were quoted in the Charlotte Observer as saying that a National (Basketball) Championship was “not that far away” and then once our basketball program achieved some success that we would “stay there” when you said 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.

Herb Sendek remained the coach of NC State for the next five years. His 9th overall season was clearly his best, but his 10th season saw NC State back on the proverbial NCAA bubble and he ultimately left a program with dearth of talent and experience and was was so shaky that you chose to signal special stability to the market when you gave Coach Lowe an unconventional six year contract.

Coach Sendek never won an ACC Championship. He never achieved an ACC Tournament seed greater than 4th. Of the five NCAA Tournament bids we earned, he entered the final week of four of those seasons (80%) needing important wins to get off the bubble and secure a Tournament bid. He only won five NCAA Tournament games in five years and only advanced to one Sweet 16. He never achieved a single week ranked in the Top 10.

History clearly shows that your judgment was ultimately horribly wrong on both of your conclusions: (i) we were nowhere remotely close to a National Championship and (ii) when coach Sendek got his program to the peak he was not able to ‘stay there’.

(a) Given how poorly you obviously misjudged that situation, would you ever consider admitting your miscalculations or even apologizing to NC State fans for being so wrong? Or do you contend that a National Championship was “not that far away”?

(b) Did your overall respect for Coach Sendek – a man whose principles and behavior undoubtedly deserved respect – cloud attempts at objective reviews of actual performance and results?


(13) Coach Sendek coached at NC State for ten years. When he left for Arizona State only 17 coaches had ever been provided the privilege to coach in the ACC for a decade or longer. His career achievements while at State clearly rank him better than only two of the seventeen coaches who share that distinction. What components of NC State’s program and our fanbase merits the acceptance of long-term performance that ranks 15th (or 14th or 13th) out of 17?


(14) As evidenced by both the Director’s Cup standings for all sports, and specifically results on the basketball court, the gap between the performance at NC State and all three of our Big Four rivals (UNC-CH, Duke and Wake Forest) has never been greater. This gap has actually grown wider in recent years and as of the most recent Directors Cup standings reached its widest in history. What specific factors would you cite as explanations for why this is the case? After nine years of opportunity for you to improve our programs, we have never been further behind our peers. Can we expect this trend to grow wider in the future? What specific steps are you taking to close this gap with our competition?


(15) Related to #14, you consistently proclaim that you ‘know basketball’…yet, in a decade of your time in Raleigh you have never had a basketball team ranked in the AP Top 10 for a single week. In four different seasons during your tenure, ALL THREE of our Big Four rivals have been able to achieve a Top 10 ranking for at least a week during the same season. Additionally, Wake Forest has employed three different coaches during your time in Raleigh and every one of these coaches took the Demon Deacons to a ranking of #2 or #1 in the country during their tenure. Do these other schools ‘know basketball’ better than you? What institutional advantages does Wake Forest possess that is absent at NC State to allow them to generate such peak success under so many different coaches with a program that has far less tradition than NC State and with their smaller and less impressive arena/facilities?


(16) How much money did NC State spend on Sports Medicine this past academic year? I have heard that other local schools now use the disorganization, de-centralization, and the manner in which we treat and judge injuries against us on the recruiting trail. What can be done to help our coaches and fix these problems? After nine years of sitting in the AD’s chair, why hasn’t anything been done to fix these issues before now?


Back in 2005 we ran a very similar entry that we thought would be very relevant today. You should go read the questions by clicking here. The following could be some modified versions of those questions:

(1) 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?

(2) 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 “good to 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?

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56 Responses to Questions for Lee Fowler [FINAL Update @ 7:30am]

  1. Greywolf 07/08/2009 at 11:15 PM #

    Dear Coach,

    In a 4/23/02 chat/interview with, you stated the following…

    “My charge is to be a top three program in the conference in every sport and improving our facilities is a big part of accomplishing that.”

    7 years later, our beloved Wolfpack have not even close to being a top 3 program nor have we even come close to being one. There is a saying amongst high performance individuals: you either have your results OR you have your reasons why not. Surely you must be frustrated and somewhat weary of the lack of results. We, the Wolfpack Nation are frustrated and weary of reasons why not.

    There appears to be little if any accountability amongst the coaches to you, the Athletic Director, for having top three programs. Is there some extenuating circumstance such as tenure for coaches that accounts for long-time coaches with dismal results not being terminated/replaced? Can we not compete for top-3-program caliber coaches due to salary limitations. Who are you protecting? The Chancellor? The BOT? Maybe the BOG?

    The rank and file Wolfpackers are calling you to account for your word in fulfilling on your charge. Spin-doctoring dismal results must stop.

    Would you address these areas of accountability — first yours and then the coaches?

  2. harrisek 07/08/2009 at 11:40 PM #

    “Ivy League schools that do not offer athletic scholarships”

    This is a bit of a nit, but the Ivy League schools don’t offer “athletic” scholarships, but they do offer “need-based” financial assistance. Basically, the same thing.

  3. waxhaw 07/09/2009 at 6:55 AM #

    Knowing the importance and prestige of the NC State men’s basketball coaching search, did you consider taking a more confidential approach to your candidates?

    Were you surprised that the group you like to dub the “lunatic fringe” was smart enough to track your movements via plane tracker during the basketball coaching search?

    Since your actual record in Director’s Cup Standings factually backs ups some of the “lunatic fringe’s” complaints about you and since they were able to track your movements during one of the more embarassing times of your tenure (the public men’s basketball coaching search), would you consider taking back the lunatic fringe comment? After all, if they are lunatics, what would that make you?

  4. choppack1 07/09/2009 at 8:29 AM #

    I think item #12 needs a fact check:

    “*Herb Sendek remained the coach of NC State for the next five years. His 9th overall season was clearly his best.”
    This is debatable. While his 9th season had the best NCAA tournament performance, his 8th season was probably the best overall. Of course, that season will be remembered by State fans for the epic collapses vs. UMd in the ACC tourney and vs. Vandy in the NCAA tourney.

    * “He never achieved an ACC Tournament seed greater than 4th.”
    Not true, in 2004, NC State’s seed was #2, and I beleive we were in 2nd place alone in the ACC.'s_Basketball_Tournament

    *”Of the five NCAA Tournament bids we earned, he entered the final week of four of those seasons (80%) needing important wins to get off the bubble and secure a Tournament bid. ”

    This is incorrect, in 2004 we were a #2 seed in the ACC tournament and #3 seed in the NcAA tournament. In 2006, I think we lost our last 3 games of the regular season, then our ACC tournament game. We had 10 wins in conference that year – so we still got an-large bid.

    *”History clearly shows that your judgment was ultimately horribly wrong on both of your conclusions: (i) we were nowhere remotely close to a National Championship and (ii) when coach Sendek got his program to the peak he was not able to ’stay there’.”

    I think item (i) is spot on. However, (ii) is clearly more subjective. Remember, you have to look at this through the eyes of Fowler – and to him, and quite frankly most other ADs, 5 sucessive NCAA tournaments, and double digit conference wins 2 out of the last 3 years (and a Sweet 16 birth in the other season) would be sustaining a certain level of performance.

    I don’t want to defend Fowler, but let’s get our facts right when it comes to Sendek. IMHO, the two strongest arguments against the Fowler’s handling of the situation is as follows:
    1) The note that if our program was in such good shape under Sendek, why have we missed the tournament the next 3 years. (The answer may be that, in fact, the AD is solely at fault here due to the lenghth of his search and the coach he selected.)

    2) I think of the 17 coaches who coached as long as Sendek in the ACC, he’s one of 2 that didn’t reach the Elite 8, win ACC championship or ACC title.

    3) An AD has no business criticizing fans when his coach isn’t winning championships.

  5. choppack1 07/09/2009 at 9:26 AM #

    What kind of knucklehead says he thinks there are 2 key questions and then outlines 3?? Me, of course.

  6. old13 07/09/2009 at 10:00 AM #

    Is there a followup to this?

  7. GAWolf 07/09/2009 at 11:14 AM #

    So you think Fowler read this before we went on the air? I say that only because HE brought up the Sears Cup issue… that we’re the lowest we’ve ever been… before he could be asked about it. That’s highly unusual for his typical approach to “self-puffery.”

  8. WTNY 07/09/2009 at 11:16 AM #
  9. StateFans 07/09/2009 at 11:25 AM #

    choppack…GREAT work on those corrections. Thanks for sharing. I will go back and clean up and fix some things.

  10. choppack1 07/09/2009 at 11:48 AM #

    A great memory is a blessing and a curse…because those UMd and Vandy games still sting, almost as bad as that Duke championship game loss.

    I swear, pulling for those Sendek coached team when we finally made the NCAAs was like pulling for the Bobby Cox-led Braves. You knew we’d get to the postseason, but you knew the inevitable key loss would almost be more painful than not making it all. It would involve some botched play, a historic collapse or an odd coaching decision. But hey, it looks both Braves and Wolfpack have fixed that problem though not in the way I’d want.

  11. BJD95 07/09/2009 at 12:12 PM #

    It’s funny, because the Duke loss (where Redick went nuts late) hurt, but I wasn’t mad. I liked how we went down swinging, instead of playing not to lose. We just ran out of gas and got torched by an incredible individual performance. I remember PLEADING for Sendek to keep his foot on the gas, and we would all be happy with how the NCAAT played out.

    And of course, Sendek reined the kids back in, and we gave a listless performance and lost to Cal in round one. Damn, that pissed me off.

  12. WolftownVA81 07/09/2009 at 12:16 PM #

    Great questions. If he answered a tenth of them honestly I’d say we would know where we stand. Any way we can get the transcript of the interview posted or linked?

  13. Greywolf 07/09/2009 at 12:25 PM #

    “Ivy League schools that do not offer athletic scholarships”

    This is a bit of a nit, but the Ivy League schools don’t offer “athletic” scholarships, but they do offer “need-based” financial assistance. Basically, the same thing.

    Since you brought it up… Are these need based scholarships for marginal student athletes or are they for students who meet the general admission academics of Ivy League schools and need financial assistance?

    Apparently you don’t know the difference between financial assistance and full-ride athletic scholarships — the difference between highly recruited athletes and students with smarts who want an Ivy League education and play football to go along with it. I recognize the original statement to be a bash-op for LF, so it being full of shit doesn’t really matter.

  14. GAWolf 07/09/2009 at 1:40 PM #

    The Sendek era is what finally took the desire to talk junk about NC State sports to competing fans completely out of me. I’m not sure I’d even remember how to “brag” if given the opportunity in the future.

  15. McPete 07/09/2009 at 1:44 PM #

    offering need-based scholarships to athletes helps the ivy league school compete with other top public/private schools with great academics that can offer a free ride to an athlete as well.

  16. GAWolf 07/09/2009 at 1:47 PM #

    See… this is why Easley’s attorney should have walked quietly off into the night after the termination. I’m not sure if it would have stopped the train that ultimately brought this second inquiry by the Feds, but it certainly couldn’t have helped to keep the issue in the public eye.

  17. choppack1 07/09/2009 at 2:34 PM #

    BJD – That Duke loss so painful- probably moreso because I was there. The game was so wierd because you could just see that so many of the Wolfpack fans were even scared to get to excited.

    The place finally exploded when Powell scored on a drive and was fouled for a 3 point play. (I think this may have also given us the 15 point lead.)

    I had pretty much effectively suppressed that Cal game – thanks for bringing it back up!

  18. highstick 07/09/2009 at 3:06 PM #

    LRM beat me to the question about the cougars! All of these are good questions. I’ll be interested in responses, but I’m sure he’ll “dance around them” and blame it on the interweb.

  19. blpack 07/09/2009 at 3:29 PM #

    Some very good questions there. I would ask if he could leave his resignation on the chancellor’s desk Monday AM.

  20. Wulfpack 07/09/2009 at 3:42 PM #

    I just listened to the entire segment and was sitting here gnawing on my knuckles after his every response. One thing you gotta hand the guy is he knows how to handle a question. Always so political, always “I do what’s best for N.C. state”, etc. etc. I honestly didn’t take anything away from this piece other than to confirm the fact that he truly doesn’t have any metric in how he judges his performance or his coaches’ jobs –none. But those that “really know you”, Lee, support you 110%, and I guess that’s all that matters. We’re screwed.

  21. GAWolf 07/09/2009 at 5:40 PM #

    Can SFN start a thread to discuss UNC’s most recent career ending injury that just happens to free up an athletic scholarship but lets the kid continue to stay in school for free? Rumor has it that UNC has had like 15 of these over a span that NCSU has had 2 or 3 or 4. PP is reporting a local sports writer is looking into the story and it could wind up being pretty big news it seems. Just an idea… I’d love to discuss it. I looked for any evidence of something similar at UofM when he was there and found this interesting read that sheds light on so many aspects of things-Butch-Davis.

    Miami and Davis are thin and getting thinner
    Sporting News, The, Feb 12, 1996 by Ivan Maisel

    * 1
    * 2
    * 3
    * Next »

    Two months ago, Miami received its long-awaited sentence from the NCAA and climbed upon a two-year tightrope. The probation handed down by the NCAA Committee on Infractions left Coach Butch Davis with 12 scholarships to give this winter and 14 next year. The Hurricanes’ margin of error is nonexistent. Not only must the coaches be absolutely certain of their recruiting choices, the Hurricanes have to figure out a way to play injury-free football. At a school that asks for about $20,000 per annum, walks-ons are a dream.

    That’s why when second-string quarterback Scott Covington approached Davis after the season and asked for a release from his scholarship, Davis played hardball. He said no. He meant for his answer to be heard by Covington and by other teammates thinking if leaving. Covington, as is his right within NCAA rules, requested a university hearing. Last week, he got his hearing, and though there was no announcement by week’s end, he was expected to get his release. Covington is a native of southern California and is expected to head home and enroll at California, where he will become the protege of new Coach Steve Mariucci.

    Miami stressed to Covington that Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta served apprenticeships before they won the Heisman Trophy. Covington played mop-up duty last season, appearing in seven games with a few meager stats (22 of 42 for 324 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions). No one doubts his future. However, Covington came across the country to play for Dennis Erickson. That didn’t happen — Erickson left after the 1994 season for the Seattle (Los Angeles?) Seahawks.

    Davis, looking at the specter of having no experienced quarterbacks behind Ryan Clement, didn’t help Covington. There are coaches who will help find a home for disgruntled reserves. The most famous case of that is when Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer picked up the phone 10 years ago and asked UCLA’s Terry Donahue if he wanted a good passer. That’s how Troy Aikman became a Bruin. Davis made his point. Covington, homesick a nd sick of the prospect of sitting next season behind Clement, made his. He will play for Mariucci, who as the Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks coach turned his last protege, Brett Favre, into the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. (Actually, Mariucci should receive greater credit for being the offensive coordinator who turned Mike Pawlawski into an outstanding quarterback for Cal in 1991. That took more coaching than making Favre into an MVP.) Favre loves Mariucci. When Mariucci left, Favre said, “I went into (General Manager) Ron Wolf s office and told him that I would restructure my contract, would give up money out of my contract, if that would make a difference in having him stay. Thank God, I’m at the point in my career where I feel I can survive without him here every day helping me.”

    For old times’ sake (and a quick family vacation), Mariucci flew to Hawaii last week and coached Favre in the Pro Bowl. For the Cal program, getting a guy like Covington injects some life into an otherwise lackluster recruiting class.

    Miami dragged out the process long enough that Covington won’t be able to enroll at Cal this semester, which eliminates the possibility that he could participate in spring practice. It’s not that big a deal — Covington won’t be eligible until 1997, anyway. Still, Davis didn’t do him any favors. Seven months before the season begins, Davis has lost one of the few cushions he had. Miami’s season will be decided in the training room. If the Hurricanes have any injuries at all, they will watch Syracuse and Virginia Tech fight for the Big East title.

  22. Elrod 07/09/2009 at 8:35 PM #

    That was a sad “interview”. Sounded much more like setup spots for a political candidate than sports talk radio.

  23. Rick 07/10/2009 at 7:59 AM #

    “It’s funny, because the Duke loss (where Redick went nuts late) hurt, but I wasn’t mad.”

    I was there and sitting in the Duke section. That was painful.

    BTW, it does seem like these questions were used for prep work. And it sounds like Gold did not really play tough with him anyway,

  24. Zen Wolf 07/10/2009 at 12:16 PM #

    Hey Lee! I don’t have any experience but do you think I could get a job as vice president of athletic progression. I was hoping to start at around $180,000 a year and be able to fly on someones private plane a lot and play free golf a lot and drink beer with alumni at football games. I am hoping that there won’t be any performance evaluations or anything. It sounds like NC State is open to this kind of position. I not much of a fisher man but I like fish fries. Like you I too know basketball. Phillip Rivers was the best point guard the ACC has ever seen. I hope to hear from you soon.

  25. highstick 07/10/2009 at 3:57 PM #

    Listened to him this morning and it’s obvious he just doesn’t get it!! I truly think he thinks he’s got everything on track and is doing what is expected.

    I had an employee like that one time and it took me over an hour the day I fired her for her to finally come to the realization that I was talking about her, not asking her advice about someone else. Toughest termination I ever went through cause she was just convinced I was talking in some abstract terms about someone else.

    I had a close friend, although he was a die hard Tar Heel alumnus, die yesterday. His obituary requested donations to the Rams Club instead of flowers. I called his wife and said I’d send flowers cause there was no way I’d give money to the Rams Club. I thought I might even send a contribution to the Wolfpack Club in his name “just for kicks”, but after listening to Lee, “NO WAY”! His wife has gotten a chuckle out of this. I think I’m going to wear my red coat to his visitation tomorrow night. My friend would even think that was funny!!

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