After a conversation yesterday with someone really in the know, I expect Nevin Kessler, who probably couldn’t give away ice in south Florida in the summer, to get his way with the 5% tax on all donations to NC State University. The Vice Chancellor for Advancement knows of no other way to raise money for the functioning of his department. He’s had three years to do so and has come up short.
And, you can expect the Wolfpack Club to be a part of the equation. That’s right; Kessler has that in his plan that may have been approved Thursday or might be okayed today at the University’s meeting of the Board of Trustees.
First the Wolfpack Club: My sources tell me Kessler wants the Wolfpack Club to participate in his scheme to take money from all contributions so he can “up-grade” his office with more computers, more software, more people, draining financial resources that go to scholarship, endowing faculty chairs and the like. But, instead of it being called a “tax,” he’s calling it a “services rendered” fee. For what? The Wolfpack Club may be the most sophisticated fund-raising organization related to NC State. There is no service whatsoever Kessler and his band of thieves can offer the Wolfpack Club. Also, I’m told this is in a “negotiating” phase. Hah! The Board of Trustees would be wise to back off. Of course, there are many academicians at NC State who dislike the Wolfpack Club, dislike athletics and think that if there was no athletics department, that donated money would be contributed to other University causes. Those people who think that are dreaming.
As far as the conversation yesterday, this is being done in an effort to increase the endowment fund which is small compared to other related and unrelated universities. In the conversation, while most of Kessler’s comparisons have been to other land-grant institutions such as Purdue, Virginia Tech and Michigan State, the real buzz words of jealousy kept coming up. “Just look at North Carolina and Duke. Their endowments are huge. And, all Carolina has to do is say it wants contributions and their alumni write the check.”
The person made a good point, but maybe it’s not the mechanism but the attitude that keeps NC State’s financial resources down. Maybe UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke cultivate its graduates better than NC State. From where I sit, I say maybe is the wrong word. I’d say both those universities nurture their alumni and related fans better than NC State. I’ve seen that for much of my lifetime. NC State, for some reason, seems to cut back on its efforts, thinking by asking the money will flow. For instance, it used to be every alumnus received the printed Alumni Association magazine. For cost savings, that was cut only to contributors to the Alumni Association. It used to be that every graduate was considered a member of the Alumni Association, the way it should be. Now, it takes a $40 minimum contribution, not much, but it would be easier to get the $40 or more if the Association reached out to the Alumni instead of the Alumni trying to break through a brick wall to get through to the University. By the way, this change was done many Directors ago and at the demand of the Chancellor/ Advancement/Development unit of the University, not of the Executive Director of the Alumni Association.
In the conversation yesterday, I was asked how I could channel my energy into something positive, to make NC State better. My first response was: I’ve tried but my efforts go in one ear and out the other. I see things going on at NC State that absolutely amaze me and should every person related to NC State. Examples:
It used to be that the Sports Information Office cultivated the media, working with writers and radio and television reports to make sure Wolfpack athletics benefited from coverage. In many instances, the SID staff socialized with the media, talking on and off the record. Coaches did as well. Of course, the attitude of the media changed, especially with 24-hour coverage and internet sites, such as this one, but get this: A longtime newspaper reporter from Winston-Salem, a very nice guy who was covering Wake Forest, was asked by his editor to drive to Raleigh and to write a story about NC State football, a subject with which he was not so familiar. He did what he would normally do and stopped in at the Sports Information Department and spoke with the Director. When explaining why he was there, he asked the Director for a story suggestion. Wow! What a great opportunity for NC State, to have a reporter ask for a story idea. What a great set-up! The Director, though, surprised the writer by saying: “I’m not going to do your work for you. You figure out what you want to write about.” This came from someone who was schooled in the art of Sports Information by one of the best in the business, Bob Bradley of Clemson. That kind of attitude should not be tolerated.
But now, it runs deeper. A friend pointed out the other day that he is tired of reading on NC State’s own athletics website, http://www.gopack.com/, that the gymnastics team scored the most points it every has but came in sixth out of six teams. I’m not sure if his example is gospel, but his point it this: The website is there to promote NC State athletics, but it should also keep results in perspective. There are ways around putting down a team for bad results, but not this way.
I’m told that the Sports Information staff has been instructed to write only about the NC State perspective when reporting an event. Last weekend, NC State’s men’s golf team hosted a golf tournament with 16 other college teams playing along with the Wolfpack. The UNC Tar Heels, putting together a terrific performance, won the tournament and an golfer from Duke won the individual title. Both are to be congratulated. Bother results were mentioned on the website: http://www.gopack.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=41998&SPID=3735&DB_OEM_ID=9200&ATCLID=204925930. But, NC State, from my understanding, did nothing to promote the event and did nothing afterwards to report the results other than to report it on GoPack.Com. That’s too bad. This was a local event with some of the top college golf teams coming to the new Lonnie Poole Golf Course, and the athletics department should have made an effort to get some media attention, if for no reason other than to promote the golf course.
And, that’s another sore subject for me, one I’ll give insight to as well. Imagine this: When Athletics Director Lee Fowler was asked if he wanted his department to develop the golf course as an athletics department facility, Fowler basically turned to one person for advice: Dick Baddour , athletics director at UNC who told Fowler to stay away, that it would be a drain on the athletics budget. At UNC, the golf course is part of athletics. If Fowler had said yes, the Wolfpack Club would have probably raised all the money to build the course, the clubhouse and the related facilities. But now, the fund-raising effort struggles. It is estimated that another $11 million will be needed to complete the project.
Let’s see: 5% of $11 million; hmmm, that’s $550,000 that will go into Kessler slush fund and not to the cause. It would be better spent if one of the potential crown jewels of the campus can be completed.