Misplaced Praise? Did SFN make a big mistake?

Yesterday’s entry highlighting the Wolfpack Women’s big win in Chapel Hill over the weekend reminded me of a recent conversation that I wanted to share with the community to see if any of our community members had any insight to share.

It started last October when I wrote this entry actually complimenting and praising Lee Fowler for making a coaching hire that I had the balls to call a success before the first jump ball of Coach Kellie Harper’s career. The praise can be summarized as follows:

One issue where Lee Fowler deserves some legitimate praise is in his hiring of Kellie Harper earlier this spring as NC State’s women’s basketball coach. I was shocked at the time that some people were giving Fowler grief for not hiring Stephanie Glance, and now that Coach Harper is here I am more convinced than ever that she is the perfect fit to bring NC State’s Women’s Basketball program back.

The commentary on the topic summarized as:

Please note that this praise is confined to Fowler’s choice of Kellie Harper as Head Coach; it does not extend to the overall management and guidance of the women’s basketball program. From a macro view, one cannot ignore the obvious that the Women’s Basketball program was allowed to significantly deteriorate from a top flight program to an also-ran throughout Fowler’s decade in Raleigh.

It also ignores that Fowler couldn’t find the energy, motivation or competency to hire Harper in March (instead of late April) and thereby allow her a fighting chance to do some recruiting. Whatever the excuses and rationality for moving painfully slow without an ounce of urgency are unacceptable and serve to reinforce the obvious conclusion that Fowler & NC State seem to never be able to understand the consequences of each of their actions.

Both of the aforementioned items exemplify why Fowler is so incompetent and rudderless as a ‘leader’ of a $40 – $50 million business. But, on the ultimate hiring of Kellie Harper I think the man finally got something right.

The catalyst for today’s entry was a conversation I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago that served to turn my ‘praise’ completely around on me. My friend indicated that he had heard that the reason for the inexcusable delay in hiring Coach Harper was that Lee Fowler actually wanted to hire Stephanie Glance and there were ‘others’ in the leadership at NC State that refused to let that happen.

Honestly, hiring Glance was exactly what I expected would happen; and, I was (obviously) very pleasantly surprised that scenario did not play out. Hiring Glance was clearly the path of least resistance and uarguably the ‘easiest way out’. And that is exactly why it was my expectation of what would happen. What better describes Lee Fowler and more appropriately describes his (lack of) work ethic than taking the easiest way out on the way to exerting the least amount of energy on anything other than chewing a cigar, playing golf or playing on the lake?

So, I throw this confusion out to the community this morning to seek some guidance and education on this issue?

Thanks so much

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46 Responses to Misplaced Praise? Did SFN make a big mistake?

  1. packbackr04 02/23/2010 at 9:22 AM #

    i dont have any inside info, but this is not surprising. If true, it is yet another indictment of how little power or respect Lee has left at the helm. Again, if this is correct, he has now been told to stay away from our 2 most recent big name hires(TOB and Harper) since the SL debacle. Why doesnt the BOT just go ahead and get rid of him? why wait for Randy? what big donors are still dumb enough to support this man?

  2. Bubba 02/23/2010 at 9:32 AM #

    From conversations with 2 former staffers of Coach Yow, this isn’t close to the truth. They despise LF for not giving Coach Glance the job.I mean they really really hate the man.

  3. Classof89 02/23/2010 at 9:43 AM #

    Like Bubba, what I was hearing at the time was that former assistants, former players, etc. were pushing Glance and that Fowler was the one refusing to do it and being determined to engage in a search. Now, whether that impulse was coming from Fowler himself, or whether his arm was twisted beforehand I have no idea. But what DIDN’T happen is that Fowler formally proposed Glance as the next coach and was then overruled.

    As our mens ACC hoops wins this season indicate, even a blind hog finds a mushroom once in a while…

  4. StateFans 02/23/2010 at 9:46 AM #

    Classof89, your comments are the crux at what I am trying to get at.


    Do you have any way of knowing the differentiation of the following:

    (1) Do they dislike him because Glance did not end up getting the job and he was the AD who ultimately is credited with hiring Harper (regardless of what his preference was in the situation)


    (2) Do they dislike him because they know for a fact that he did not want to hire Glance and worked against hiring her?

    I think whatever was going on in the background would be the differentiating factor here. That is what I am trying to get to.

  5. Bubba 02/23/2010 at 9:54 AM #

    One of the 2 ladies came right out and said Coach Glance didn’t get a fair shot because LF never cared for her. TIFWIW, I have no clue if that is the truth or not.

  6. BassPacker 02/23/2010 at 10:00 AM #

    Speaking of Fowler hires, whats the opinion of his latest hire: Bryan Bunn as new womens volleyball coach? Bunn was the assistant head coach at Baylor with a record of 56-40. Prior to his stint at Baylor, Bunn spent seven season as the head coach at North Florida, posting a 180-56 (.798) record.

    Coach Bunn gives alot of credit to Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator Michelle Lee for giving the opportunity along with AD Fowler. You don’t hear much about Michelle Lee, what role does she play under Fowler with hires such as Bunn and Harper?

  7. StateFans 02/23/2010 at 10:02 AM #

    Well, that is very helpful…and, that is exactly why I threw it out there to try to get to some truth.

    Tons of value in this community and network of Wolfpackers. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. one00_proof 02/23/2010 at 10:09 AM #

    I don’t think we’ll ever know truly if Fowler had his arm twisted to hire Harper or that he truly wanted to hire Harper from the beginning. I think we can all be fairly certain that the media, the staff, and former players were pushing for glance. I believe that people with influence on the hire were pushing for Harper. Where Fowler’s mindset was on this, I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I personally believe that Harper was the “no shit sherlock” choice that even a man of Fowler’s ineptitude should hire.

  9. ryebread 02/23/2010 at 10:15 AM #

    I will start by saying that I have zero insider information — zilch. I do keep up with things, read between the lines and formulate my own opinion.

    If you check my post at the end of the MD game thread, you’ll see I asked a very leading question. If SL weren’t retained this year, do people here believe that LF would actually lead the hiring of the replacement? I actually do not given that the signs point to him having a drastically reduced role in hiring.

    I’m not 100% sure what happened with TOB, but I think LF was involved in that one pretty heavily. TOB was the easy choice that produced a “name.” TOB was after any BCS job available to get him out of Chestnut Hill. LF was just the man dumb/desperate enough to throw him the life preserver. The rumor was that Neinas and Murphy both supported PJ (who was my pick), suggests to me that LF made the TOB call. TOB was the easy hire and that fits LF’s mentality to a T, particularly after he’d been burnt in the basketball search. He wanted to hit that solid double as quickly as possible. He hit the double, but missed on the obvious home run (PJ).

    Fast forward to the Kelly Harper hire. At the time, I was pretty vocal of my opinion that LF should never be allowed to hire another coach at NC State. I was actually a supporter of Glance almost solely due to the fact that I didn’t want LF pulling another LF coaching hire. I figured that Glance would flame out in 2-3 seasons, but we’d have “done the right thing” and kept the pipeline with the former players loyal to Yow. By that time, we’d have hopefully been rid of Fowler and ready to make a hire based solely on merit. I figured at that time we’d get someone like Harper, but that the program would be that much tougher to recover. I was willing to make that sacrifice because I had that little faith in LF.

    Let’s go back to LF’s MO — never firing a coach, making the easiest hire possible, inability to attract top notch staff, resistance to change and distaste for anything “ugly” in the media. All these things pointed to a swift Glance hire.

    Glance was the easy hire, but it didn’t happen. Instead, it drug out for considerable time, which suggested to me that an academic styled committee was making the decision. That suggested to me that while LF may have been on the committee, he wasn’t calling the shots (and really was being worked around). When we announced Harper, I thought we had about a good of a result as we could possibly hoped for out of the situation.

    Now let’s look at volleyball. LF “knows” volleyball. Stubbs was his last pick. It was painfully obvious to anyone who bothered to show up to a game (I’ve been to several) that she was terrible, divisive, that the team wasn’t well conditioned, wasn’t well schooled and didn’t have a lot of talent (who does that sound like?). LF let that drag on well beyond the time it’d turned sour, despite the stupidity with the Technician and what I’ve been told was a run in with the NCAA over Stubbs’ husband’s behavior. That’s the LF we know and love. I think his hand was forced on the firing when it because so incredibly obvious that people couldn’t ignore it any more.

    Now let’s look at the hiring pattern again. I’ll grant that there was no obvious choice this time, but it again drug out over an extremely long period of time. Again, this points to hiring by committee — academic style, not LF style.

    Like Harper, we ended up with a pretty solid hire. Honestly, I don’t think LF would have looked deeply enough to find and assistant at Baylor who previously put up almost an .800 record at smaller schools. I don’t think LF hired this one as well.

    This to me suggests a pattern of at least two straight hires where LF’s role was greatly diminished. That suggests that the powers that be are finally starting to get what we know, which hopefully means the rumors of Fowler’s departure may actually have some merit. I am now cautiously optimistic that we may finally shed his dead weight.

    It also suggests to me that if we parted ways with SL, my biggest fear (LF leading another men’s bb coaching search) probably won’t happen. I think we should look at SL objectively at season’s end. It still may not be a good time politically given all the change (chancellor, hopefully new AD, other staff) and the recruiting class, but it should be looked in a way that ignores the LF factor.

  10. Daily Update 02/23/2010 at 10:27 AM #

    ryebread: That was interesting to read.

    I have never got the story straight on football. I thought Neinas was one of the guys that got TOB involved. I have also seen it written in the local media that Fowler made the call on TOB. Then others say he had nothing to do with it.

    I agree with your sentiment at the end as well on Lowe(not to change the topic). Options always have to be considered and they should definitely be considered this year as well.

  11. sbas2 02/23/2010 at 10:29 AM #

    i don’t know if Fowler made the call on hiring Harper, but this is what i do know. i was at the UNC game at Raleigh last year. Glance was the head coach due to Yow passing. the team played without any effort or motivation. i do not fault the team as i could understand how they could play that way with Yow passing; however, it was State’s chief rival and State had come close to beating the Tarheels in Chapel Hill earlier in the year. at some point Fowler came out and stood at the end of the court. he didn’t stay long and when he left his demeanor told me that there was no way Glance was getting the job.

  12. sbas2 02/23/2010 at 10:30 AM #

    correcting a typo error: “the team played without any” as opposed to “the team came played without”. sorry.

  13. tdawg 02/23/2010 at 10:42 AM #

    Wasn’t it one of Coach Yow’s final requests that Stephanie Glance follow her as head coach at NCSU? Wouldn’t that make Fowler’s desire to hire Glance make him seem like the good guy in the coaching search situation for trying to respect You’s request?

  14. wolfpackdawg 02/23/2010 at 10:42 AM #

    Glance would have sucked no matter how you slice & dice it. Talent > loyalty.

  15. rtpack24 02/23/2010 at 11:10 AM #

    The reason Harper was hired late is because Fowler wanted Glance. BOT had to strong arm him into hiring Harper. This is from a direct source

  16. Classof89 02/23/2010 at 11:17 AM #

    I find that hard to believe…does the Board of Trustees (as opposed to prominant boosters exerting their influence through the Wolfpack Club) really play much of a role in internal hiring decisions of the athletics program? Now maybe some of the prominant athletics boosters are also on the Board of Trustees (Wendell Murphy, for example). But I find it hard to believe they would exert that influence through the formal governance structure of the Board of Trustees. That Board has far bigger fish to fry than who coaches womens basketball at State.

  17. rtpack24 02/23/2010 at 11:30 AM #

    BOT does have bigger fish to fry and some of their fish was burnt over the last year. There were alot of factors behind the scenes with Coach Yow’s request for Glance and others of the opinion that we needed an entire new staff. When Fowler came to the board for approval of Glance is when the BOT took a more active roll in the process. If you know anyone in the AD dept or that was on Coach Yow’s staff, they will tell you that Fowler wanted to hire Glance. He did not have a change of heart, it was changed for him

  18. Classof89 02/23/2010 at 11:36 AM #

    If that’s true, than I think it’s a pretty good bet that all these rumors about Fowler being gone by summer are true. I mean, if you can’t trust your AD to make good hiring decisions, and you know that your booster club president is the one responsible for the good fundraising, then you really aren’t getting any benefit out of your AD position…

  19. wolfpacktexx 02/23/2010 at 11:50 AM #

    SFN – your clarification and sharing is insightful… and not surprising. Lee Fowler is a joke, that is why he is labeled as “Uncle Jed” – enough said. Let’s hope his new manager will quickly see his incompetence. Once proud, now a running joke with the rest of the conference schools. I am tired of making excuses to my daughter the state of NCSU athletics… On a positive note..

    Welcome Kelly Harper – we are happy with your leadership and being a member of the Wolfpack family.

  20. one00_proof 02/23/2010 at 11:51 AM #

    Not sure exactly “who” hired TOB. All I know is we were painfully close to offering PJ and then TOB called in the day before and we went with him. The TOB hiring went extremely fast, through the entire process up till about the late afternoon of the day before we announced TOB, PJ was the presumed candidate to be State’s coach. I do know that Fowler was pretty much castrated duty wise during the football search though.

  21. ryebread 02/23/2010 at 11:58 AM #

    rtpack24 is saying things that support what I was able to piece together. Thanks for sharing the information.

  22. one00_proof 02/23/2010 at 12:19 PM #

    I think the sad thing is that it’s evident Fowler hasn’t changed his ways at all despite the heat on him. I thought with the Harper hire that there was some hope for Fowler in at least his future prospects as part of another athletic department. Guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

  23. ruffles31 02/23/2010 at 1:14 PM #

    To back up what rtpack24 is saying, I was told by a source that Fowler had very little input on the hiring of Harper.

  24. packpower 02/23/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    I was told in February 2009 (after Kay Yow had died) that it was highly unlikely Fowler would hire Stephanie Glance – apparently there were some previous personality clashes between the two. Immediately after WCU’s season concluded, I was told it was Kellie Harper if the nepotism issue could be resolved. I understand that Fowler worked to alleviate that issue, which was not as easy as some of you may believe.

    All evidence that I’ve seen says he did a good job in hiring Kellie Harper while treating Glance and Kay Yow’s legacy fairly.

    Some of the other arguments here cause me to question the credibility of some of the other criticisms of Fowler’s performance.

  25. BSIE80 02/23/2010 at 1:39 PM #

    What is the point of this post?
    If I read this correctly, the point is that Harper is a good choice and Glance would have sucked. Therefore, let’s discredit LF for making this decision because LF sucks.
    LF is the AD. He selected Harper. If you are happy with Harper, then give the guy credit.

    Frankly, I am tired of all the criticism of our AD and coaches. Seems to me that this site has very little value added discussion. It is more of a witch hunt or whining site.

    By the way, nobody knows whether Harper is a better coach than Glance. It is only an opinion.

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