The Lee Fowler Era: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Part 1 (The Good)

Now that June 30, 2010 has come and gone, North Carolina State has officially parted ways with its athletic director of the past 10 years, Lee Fowler. The past 10 years have been wrought with many more downs than ups, but we want to take some time to look back at the entire Lee Fowler era. We think now is a good time to take an overall look at the events that transpired under his leadership. The following events that took place have been grouped into 3 categories: Good, Bad, and Ugly. We will look at some of these events starting with the Good.

No one can be employed at a high-level position, like an athletic director of a university, and not do anything right, no matter what anyone thinks. There were several good things to come out of the Fowler era, both personally and professionally (from an NCSU perspective).

In his tenure, the Wolfpack won 15 ACC conference titles and 2 EAGL titles. The titles were in the following sports:
• Men’s Cross Country
• Women’s Cross Country
• Wrestling
• Softball
• Gymnastics (EAGL)

Lee was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2008. Chancellor James Oblinger awarded Coach Fowler this for doing, from Oblinger’s perspective, a wonderful job keeping the athletic department functioning well…both financially and athletically.

One of the mandates when Lee Fowler arrived on campus was to make sure that the athletic department was successful from a financial perspective. This was definitely one of his strengths. As far back as I have seen, the athletic department has been in the black, which is a very good thing, seeing as several athletic departments are bleeding profusely in the red these days.

During his tenure, Lee was generally acknowledged within the ACC as the most media-friendly athletic director. David Glenn has basically said on the radio that if he needed a quote from an AD, he would place a call to Lee Fowler, as he always had time for the media. A media-friendly AD can be a very good thing.

Another award that he received was the J.B. Ross Leadership Award from the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in July 2006. This was partly due to being the host school for several NCAA tournament events.

Even after the announcement of his resignation set to be effective on June 30, 2010, Coach Fowler was bestowed another award. This time he was chosen as the recipient of the Southeast Athletic Director of the Year Award.

Under his tenure, almost every athletic venue at the university was improved or built. Outside of no real success in the 8 years before he arrived, the biggest issue facing him was the lack of top-flight facilities. Lou Holtz said it best, when he brought his South Carolina football team to Carter-Finley in 1999, as he told Coach Mike O’Cain “[Carter-Finley Stadium] looks the same as when I was here 30 years ago.” Some of the highlights are Carter-Finley Stadium, Dail Track-Softball Complex, Doak Field, Lonnie Poole Golf Course, and the renovation of the Reynolds Coliseum.

These renovations and new buildings allowed the Wolfpack to be the host for numerous NCAA Tournament events. He was very big on hosting these events as he stated with this quote:

““The ACC and NCAA do so much for our programs that I feel we owe them our support. Naturally it’s a great benefit for our teams if they are in the tournament field when we host, but it goes beyond that. Hosting generates a lot of recognition for NC State as well as tourism for our region. It does require some long hours by our dedicated staff but I think the investment in time and effort are well worth it.”

One of the main duties of an athletic director is to make sure the right people fill vacant coaching positions. Of the coaches hired by Fowler, there were two hires that so far have been very good. The first hiring was for the new varsity sport of women’s softball. Lee Fowler hired Lisa Navas, previously the assistant coach at North Carolina and a highly successful head coach at Division II Barry University. In her first year, the Wolfpack had a winning record. In her 3rd season, she led the team to both the ACC regular season and tournament championship.

Last year, we lost one of the greatest Wolfpackers ever, Kay Yow. The coach that would replace her would certainly have some serious shoes to fill. Lee Fowler wound up hiring Kellie Harper as the new women’s basketball coach. A three-time national title winner while a point guard at Tennessee under the direction of Pat Summitt, she became an instant coaching success at Western Carolina. Coach Harper won two Southern Conference titles in her five years in Cullowhee. In her first year in Raleigh, she guided her undersized team to the NCAA tournament and her future looks very bright. She is a young, emerging star in the coaching community and the Wolfpack Nation is very lucky to have her as head coach.

When listing the good things that happened during Coach Fowler’s tenure, one of the best didn’t have anything to do with him personally. Someone created a fake Twitter account and it was for Lee_Folwer. Many people joined Twitter just to get the tweets from “Coach.” Some of the tweets were priceless. Between his antics with Ron Wellman, the pool boy, and his home at Lake Gaston, hilarity was always just 140 characters away.

Next we will look at the events that fall into the category of Bad.

About ruffles31

1996 NC State graduate who is still waiting on his first ACC conference championship in any of the four main revenue sports (football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball) since enrolling. All I want is a ACC Champions t-shirt.

ACC & Other AD & Department Athletics Directors Coaches NC State Administration NCS Basketball NCS Football

20 Responses to The Lee Fowler Era: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Part 1 (The Good)

  1. baxter 07/08/2010 at 9:42 PM #

    ten bucks says the next piece gets the “I can’t believe you are still bashing Fowler” rabble rousing. ON this piece, I give a thumbs up, well done.

  2. Clarksa 07/08/2010 at 9:48 PM #

    Although unpopular, the decision to keep Sendek turned out “good” since we made the NCAA tournament 5 years in a row…

  3. old13 07/08/2010 at 10:19 PM #

    ^ . . . and went nowhere in it!

    Man, with all of these wonderful things he did, it’s amazing that Foulup wasn’t snatched up long ago by a major D1 athletic power, much less that he is still unemployed!

  4. McCallum 07/08/2010 at 10:26 PM #

    I think I’ll drink a Fresca.


  5. 61Packer 07/08/2010 at 10:59 PM #

    Shoulda skipped Parts 1 and 2 and just went straight to Part 3.

    Under Fouler, it was ALL UGLY!!!!!!!!!!

  6. StateFans 07/09/2010 at 7:38 AM #

    Such ‘haters’. No balance here on SFN!

  7. tractor57 07/09/2010 at 8:19 AM #

    I’ll give Lee kudos for two items:

    1. The athletics program was a financial mess when he arrived so there is no doubt he dealt with that issue.

    2. The hiring of coach Harper.

    I’ll give him partial credit on the facilities upgrades.

    Pretty short list for 10 years I think but I wonder if that has more to do with the university administration than with the AD

  8. Sam92 07/09/2010 at 9:02 AM #

    good post thank you statefans

    i think what it shows for us is that we can acknowledge that fowler did have some accomplishments, but in our opinion he was *net* bad and had to go — it’s just realism, we don’t have to paint a man as completely worthless in order to fire him, we just have to conclude that he’s not up to our standards.

  9. WV Wolf 07/09/2010 at 9:28 AM #

    Nice work, it’s only fair to present both sides of the coin. That being said, I’m looking forward to reading the bad and the ugly.

    By the way, after reading the title it is impossible to not hear some Ennio Morricone music in your head…

  10. 61Packer 07/09/2010 at 10:04 AM #

    When I see the name Lee Fowler, the music I hear in my head is Flatt & Scruggs. Whooooo doggie!

  11. old13 07/09/2010 at 10:08 AM #

    ^ When I see his name, I think of Irwin Allen!

  12. bradleyb123 07/09/2010 at 10:52 AM #

    The good, the bad, and the ugly?

    As far as I’m concerned, the only good happened on June 30th of this year, when he was packing a cardboard box full of his belongings in his office.

    OK, the Kellie Harper hiring was pretty good. I’ll give him that one.

  13. bradleyb123 07/09/2010 at 10:56 AM #

    When I see the name Lee Fowler, the music I hear in my head is Flatt & Scruggs. Whooooo doggie!

    When I think of Lee Fowler being gone, the music I hear in my head is this song:

  14. WolftownVA81 07/09/2010 at 12:44 PM #

    A very fair and balanced assessment. However, left off bass fishing and the markmanship team. Also, do cougers go on the good list, the bad list or the ugly list?

    Ruffles31: The bass fishing team is not a varsity sport. Therefore, it is not included in any analysis. Rifle is different. The rifle team is a varsity sport and competes in two different conferences. As other articles have shown previously, it is difficult to get accurate results from one or both conferences. For this summary of his tenure, it was decided to leave the rifle team out as I wanted to make sure my statements were accurate and I was not confident enough of the rifle results found on

  15. TX_Wolfpack 07/09/2010 at 3:20 PM #

    I would give Kay Yow’s legacy credit for the Kellie Harper hire – established successful programs will attract good coaches. That said, I am glad to see this post before Parts II (bad) and III (ugly). I guess I’ll be able to enjoy that more knowing we took the time (however brief) to reflect on his positive contributions during his tenure.

  16. highstick 07/09/2010 at 6:34 PM #

    I’ve said so many things truthful, though negative, about Fowler for so many years on this forum, that I can’t find anything else to say!



  17. Pack78 07/09/2010 at 8:02 PM #

    Re the Harper hire-good move,HOWEVER, with Kellie’s UT pedigree and the job that she did at WCU, a major program was going to offer her sooner or later. We lucked out on the timing.

  18. howlie 07/09/2010 at 9:03 PM #

    He had some good cougar quotes. What were they?

  19. McCallum 07/10/2010 at 6:43 AM #

    Interesting thing about luck and timing, the harder you work the more the two seem to visit you.


  20. Pack78 07/10/2010 at 7:11 AM #

    ^Well put; as hard as our fanbase works, we must be due for some luck bigtime.

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