Bill Friday, “Fowler Fan”

Over the weekend, the News & Observer ran a fairly interesting piece about the rising costs of running athletic departments. As is usually the case in such analysis, there’s someone quoted for certain hand-wringing over the “big business” nature of modern college sports. And when a North Carolina media outlet runs such a piece, NC State alumnus Bill Friday is the most prominent and willing hand-wringer. However, Friday goes much further than typical generalities in the instant case:

William Friday, founding co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, said the cost of the Fowler decision is symptomatic of overall escalating athletic spending that concerns him.

“What you’re talking about all of a sudden is a salary item that’s in excess of a half a million dollars a year,” said Friday, who was head of the UNC system from 1956 to 1986.

“That’s the kind of thing that cumulatively speaking will drag sports down before it’s through. No one is putting the brakes on it anywhere that I can see, and this is not a hypothetical question. It’s just as real as tomorrow. How in the world is this going to be paid for?”

Still, nothing that objectionable. Just a difference in opinion, one that is to be expected. But read on:

Nonetheless, the huge salaries that athletic directors command are just one part of the high cost of college athletics that concerns Friday. He calls himself “a Lee Fowler fan.” He said he’s sorry Fowler was forced to step down and is willing to have Fowler use him as a reference when he searches for another job.

Now THAT is a bridge too far, dear readers. And I don’t think it requires a large leap of logic to conclude that such sentiments show remnants of the attitude that led to two-plus decades of useless self-flagellation – that any steps NC State takes to actually compete or demand results on the field or court are prima facie unsavory. And the even more illogical converse – that when someone in NC State athletics shows a complete indifference to winning, then they should be supported for doing things “the right way.”

As a SFN reader, you almost certainly know how nonsensical that is. And I hope that Mr. Friday’s remarks remind you that although the Fowler “battle” is over, the war is by no means won. Much hard work remains ahead of us.

Chancellor Woodson certainly seems to understand the importance of increasing our brand identity, and the role that winning athletics programs plays in that. But there are still people and entities in the power structure that won’t be on board. For example, note how Mr. Friday makes no mention of the real culprits in this unfortunate financial hit – the morons on the Board of Trustees who extended the contract of a failing athletic director in the first place (one who had searched and would continue to search feverishly and futilely for another job). He also doesn’t say WHY he would be a “Fowler fan” – although Tysiac tacitly attributes it to “personal feelings.”

As much fun as it has always been to mock the Bob Kennels of the world – don’t ever forget that there are enemies of progress who aren’t so easily dismissed as powerless loons. Bill Friday is a widely respected voice in the North Carolina sports world (even though I vehemently disagree with his core premise regarding college athletics – and the “good old days” when Friday ran the UNC system were certainly not in fact a “rainbows and sunshine” era by any means). And for every voice that you hear quoted, how many others lurk in the background?

Just something to consider as you trudge through your Monday.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

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23 Responses to Bill Friday, “Fowler Fan”

  1. highstick 05/24/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    Amen, amen. Several battles have been fought, but the war is not over!!

  2. ncsu96 05/24/2010 at 2:14 PM #

    As I recall Chancellor Woodson cited our Student Athletes lack of academic success amongst reason for a change at AD. In light of that Friday’s comments make no sense. I understand the point about rising cost /money in college athletics (insert head in sand) but I thought academics were of supreme importance to Friday.

  3. BJD95 05/24/2010 at 2:15 PM #

    I think it’s an oversimplification – if you don’t strive for athletics success, then you MUST be stressing academics, etc. It’s completely unfounded, but people still believe it.

  4. 61Packer 05/24/2010 at 2:35 PM #

    The elitists of academia have only begun to fight. Friday certainly doesn’t seem to have any problem with 900,000 tax-funded dollars being deposited into Fouler’s bank account for the next 3 years, regardless of whether he sits on Kerr Lake or his behind. Where’s the concern Friday mentions?

  5. bradleyb123 05/24/2010 at 3:10 PM #

    These are probably the same kind of people that think it was a mistake for us to let Herb walk. So this is no surprise. Later this year, Sidney will most likely make us forget all about Herb. Likewise, our next AD will soon make us forget about Fowler. Actually, we will not forget Fowler for a LONG time, but forget him in the sense that we’re just glad to be rid of him and we will not look back.

    The proverbial proof will be in the proverbial pudding. But it does get annoying when the media uses this stuff to make the fans out to be some kind of rabid, irrational bunch. Which we are, but only in our love for all things Wolfpack! The only thing unreasonable was keeping Herb and Fowler for as long as we did.

    I refuse to apologize when changes that need to be made finally ARE made. The only thing worse than keeping people like Sendek and Fowler too long is apologizing for it when we finally let them go.

  6. Moose Hunter 05/24/2010 at 3:26 PM #

    Here Here and a cheer to what should be focused on more clearly: The BOT and how they failed by extending a contract for a below average AD. I am also tired of hearing about the “buyout”. A revamp of the sports marketing group will increase revenue to the extent that it is relative pennies and well worth it to have Jed gone. I bet Friday and Kennel are best buds.

  7. tractor57 05/24/2010 at 3:33 PM #

    The same kind of comments were made before Valvano was made AD and BB coach – only the numbers were smaller.

    I don’t think athletics should stand above academics but if athletics does truly help form the image (and I do think it does) a crappy athletics program …

  8. old13 05/24/2010 at 3:34 PM #

    Friday and Kennel must be joined at the hip – OUT OF TOUCH! My biggest fear now is that the BOT or others will start reigning in Dr. Woodson. And if that happens, I’ll not “wait-and-see” to start writing letters, withdrawing contributions, etc!

    bradleyb123, well said!

  9. ADVENTUROO 05/24/2010 at 4:38 PM #

    And NOW it begins…

    The Patrons of St. Monteith are making the calls. They are soliciting their past mentors. They are launching a guerella warfare movement against Dr. Woodson.

    For those of you unfamiliar with St. Monteith….if you were an Engineer at NCSU, then you may have heard of St. Patrick. In 1968, there was a St. Patrick’s Day Dance as St. Patrick was the Patron Saint of all Engineers (don’t know if they do now?)….WHY….If you remember WHY St. Patrick was sainted, it was because he chased the Serpents OUT of Ireland. Since a Serpent resembles a WORM, then it can be said that St. Patrick is the inventor or the father of the WORM DRIVE. Please contol the laughter…but sometimes an Engineer’s humor is a little warped.

    SO….(and I DID NOT make the above up…), if St. Patrick is the father of the Worm Drive, then Larry Monteith, the Chancellor after Dr. Poulton “resigned” is responsible for the Valvano Drive. He is the annointed one who “chased Valvano out of NCSU…” and also renigged on his Contract Buyout…remember, Jimmy V.’s Book…”They gave me a lifetime contract….then declared me DEAD”. So all the proteges of Dr. Monteith are NOW in positions of POWER within the Administration and the Faculty. THEY are the ones that wear the St. Monteith medals and have the bust of him on the dash of their Prius’ and/or on the handlebars of their bicycles.

    NOW….they are uniting….because….GOD FORBID…..Dr. Woodson may actually allow the pedulum to swing back to ATHLETIC performance AS well as acadmenic performance….THUS, the Villianous Valvano Regime will be ressurected!

    The war of words (and accolades for Fowler) has JUST begun….it will get MORE intense…

  10. Cardiff Giant 05/24/2010 at 4:40 PM #

    A useful reminder that the well-entrenched forces wanting to keep NC State in the second rank academically and athletically have not gone away, and must always be opposed.

  11. McCallum 05/24/2010 at 5:53 PM #

    Friday is the demented progeny of “pink taint” Frank Porter Graham.

    He knows the dance steps, run down Raleigh and always at the ready to fellate chapel hill.

    He should take his comments and stuff them.


  12. rtpack24 05/24/2010 at 6:10 PM #

    Bill Friday does not know if a basketball or football are blown up or stuffed.

  13. 66pack 05/25/2010 at 7:30 AM #

    friday may be a ncsu graduate but he is a unc postgraduate and a tarheel thru and thru.never heard him complain of butch’s or roy’s or unc ad’s salary.

  14. Sam92 05/25/2010 at 8:59 AM #

    this kind of thing goes to the heart of my main concern — I don’t think Bill Friday is a decision maker any longer, but that kind of sentiment, that a mediocre AD was good enough for NCSU, is, i worry, also held at the highest levels of the university (the board of trustees) and therefore we risk hiring a mediocre replacement for Lee.

    hopefully chancellor woodson himself is striving for excellence and can throw his weight behind a search for a similar AD

  15. McCallum 05/25/2010 at 11:04 AM #

    With phone service now restored to this part of God forsaken Georgia I had a discussion with some of the Rowan County Lutheran diaspora a few moments ago who has taken refuge in Methodism. The context of our chat dealt with Bill Friday type of positions and the “it is good enough for State” mentality that we are all aware of here on the fringes. To call the pandering done by “friends” of State baseline harlot behavior is a fair compliment, the constant race for the cheap pay off by higher ups at State makes a strumpet more favorable to Clara Barton and twice as homely.

    I’ve made some noise about CHASS enrollment and some of that was taken in a “me better than you” tone. That is not my intent but rather the intent is to find greatness and direction, purpose and goal. There must be a balance between the sciences and the philosophical but not at the reduction of the first or the cheapening of the latter. How does the Bill Friday model and comments find their meaning within a discussion of Lee Fowler and CHASS? Let me point this out to you, hang with me.

    The Board of Governors handed out a directive to both unc-chapel hill and State to increase their enrollments during the mid 90’s. To preface the discussion a bit further there was an effort by Provost Phillip Stiles in the early 90’s to reform the schools within the university and pool ALL monies (endowments, research money……..ALL OF IT) within the departments under his direction. He pointed out the efforts at places like Clemson (which wrecked many of their programs in the reorganization) as a reason to be “progressive” and proactive. His claim, which buttressed the BOG directive to unc-chapel hill and State, was that applications for the CHASS at State were increasing. State needed to expand those programs because applications to those schools were increasing thus Stiles wanted the flexibility to meet his perceived view of what State was to become and what goals it was to pursue. His reorganization of monies and schools would provide decent cover to revamp the university and change its complexion. He was rejected in his efforts but the BOG directives remained.

    Now how does this tie into the Friday comments with Fowler is “good enough for State” and and the redheaded child/cheap payoff aspects we are all aware of about State? unc-chapel hill rejected the directives under the position that they were an elite school and to admit much larger numbers would lessen their reputation and the quality of their programs. What was the response down Raleigh way? We will increase enrollment, which grew the most from the massive number of CHASS applicants who were entering to gain ubiquitous degrees, but we want money. When posed the question of what lesser qualified applicants to the core programs at State were to do in the face of the increased competitiion at one of the premier LAND GRANT universities in the nation, the response was to enroll at a community college for two years, fulfill your basic college requirements there and then apply to State and finish out your final two years. In essence, deepen the purely technical aspect of the university experience for those people wanting to be in the core programs at State while in the same breath changing the nature of the university from one of a stated purpose and goal (firm direction produces good things people) to one where the university becomes all things to all people. All things to all people does not have a purpose other than mediocrity and middle of the road. As any stupid Georgian can tell you, the only thing good about the middle of the road is that night’s supper.

    So State took the money and the easy out. (just like we should have kept Fowler after 10 years of woeful service. Most of the SID should probably be executed……that is a little extreme. Maybe they should be forced to listen to Kenny G’s greatest hits) chapel hill held firm, they maintained their core programs and actually expanded their perversion with a sexual studies minor (CHASS may soon be offering one in Raleigh). My bet is that unless powerful State forces from the colleges of Forestry, Engineering, ALS, Textiles and Architecture (here are where your big donors reside BTW) demand to stop being the BOG “proving ground” that you will see State remain the cheap “scraps from the table” place that never had a chance to produce “greatness”. So Fowler was “good enough for State”, so State can change its character for a money payout while unc still rolls in the cash all the while maintaining its “reputation”. That is the old template boys, that is where they want you. They want you to know your place in the pecking order and to be rather frank, if that is what the leadership at State is willing to accept, IN ALL THINGS, then they can go to hell.


  16. WolftownVA81 05/25/2010 at 12:29 PM #

    Regarding Friday, It’s unbelievable how some people can totally ignor the facts of Fowlwer’s poor performance and maintain he should have been retained. You notice however that no supporting facts were given to justify this belief. I hope the media comes to understand that competetive NCSU sports teams are actually good for them, the Region, State and Conference and will promote the Chancellor’s new agenda accordingly. After all, don’t most casual fans only pay attention to games and coverage if the outcome is uncertain? Who wants to watch lopsided contests?

  17. choppack1 05/25/2010 at 2:21 PM #

    BJD – You describe Friday perfectly: a hand-wringer.

    And to be fair, I think he made a bit of stink of UNC throwing lots of money at Butch Davis…so I don’t know if he wishes NC State to be mediocre, rather, he just hates the idea that big money has taken D1 colleges off the beaten path of their true mission.

    His “unsustainable” comment really warrants a follow up. The money made by college football and men’s college basketball pretty much funds most large college athletic programs and the NCAA. Yet, these are probably the 2 largest offenders of the “academic/character” exception rules that PO someone like Friday so much.

    He’s right though – spending on athletics overall might appear to be heading towards bankruptcy. However, the reason that the AD budget’s and AD salaries are unsustainable is Title IX and the various other sports that have require extensive travel w/out generating enough revenue to pay the coach’s salaries, the athletes’ scholarships, and the nice facilities. The money spent on college football and men’s basketball is sustainable – these are the proverbial golden gooses (in more ways than the just direct revenues for these sports too.)

    And what a quandary this has to represent for a 90 year old. He knows in his heart of hearts that athletics was a crucial factor in gaining greater acceptance of African Americans, especially in the South. Heck, if colleges required that their athletes had similar academic qualifications as the general population of students – then, well, the teams would look like the general population.

    And hand-wringing is the perfect description of how someone like Friday feels. He’s uncomfortable with all of this. His academic background no doubt causes friction – because I’m sure in his mind – serious academic institutions have no business being serious athletic institutions.

  18. packalum44 05/25/2010 at 2:40 PM #

    Too bad he can’t back up his “unsustainable” comments with any empirical data…like ya’ know, a financial analysis showing past and projected future revenue and expenses.

    Paying a coach his market value to win will grow revenues through ticket sales, merchandise, and perhaps most importantly, through the general promotion of the school. If NC State started paying 10M to a f-ball coach, then yeah, he’d be right. We’d be losing money and it wouldn’t be realized through increased revenue or intrinsically.

    Quite frankly, Friday is just old. Just as some develop cognitively at different ages, so too do they digress at different ages. 70+ and watch out.

  19. EternalHowl 05/26/2010 at 9:28 AM #

    I really hope that NC State fans and alum can let Fowler go without bashing him further. It really just makes our fans look like idiots to bash people who were decent, but maybe not as successful as we had hoped they’d be. Move on.

  20. bradleyb123 05/26/2010 at 9:52 AM #

    Agreed, we got what we wanted. He’s on the way out now.

  21. WolftownVA81 05/26/2010 at 12:01 PM #

    No body is bashing. The facts speak for themselves and when guys like Friday goes on the offensive, it needs to be refuted even if its just on a blog.

  22. PacknSack 05/26/2010 at 9:10 PM #

    I have long feared that the powers that be will not tolerate comprehensive athletic success at N.C. State. Ground-level Carolina fans I know find Wolfpack success both annoying and embarrassing, and I imagine those with clout do as well. The 12-win football season was particularly mortifying, and lo and behold, the program went into a tailspin after that.
    I am not a conspiracy theorist, and don’t think the BOG wants State’s athletics to fail, just not be as good as Carolina’s.

  23. Wufpacker 05/27/2010 at 1:15 AM #

    ^ Not to be nit-picky but it was an 11 win season. I only correct you because if I don’t there will be a heel along any moment to correct you and throw in the obligatory “parade” comment.

    I also know some carolina fans who look down on State. Believe it or not, most of them are the previously discussed (ad nauseum) “Wal-Mart” fans. I’ve met very few true carolina grads who truly wish State to remain down. They want to beat us, don’t mistake that…but State being down is boring to them, just as Wake being down in the 80’s wasn’t much fun.

    And I am not a conspiracy theorist either, but do not underestimate the numbers and places of power within and without the university that do not wish to see State succeed with regularity in intercollegiate athletics.

    Oh, and the tailspin after the 11 win season was because of Amato, not the BOG, BOT, or any other group of that sort (Not even Fowler). He (Amato, that is) couldn’t recruit lineman, he couldn’t recruit skill positions (not with regularity anyway) and he couldn’t keep a stable staff (a discussion for another time) thus continuity, and thus inroads to recruiting, were never established for the long term. Very few football programs will sustain any sort of success with those problems.

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