It’s not surprising that NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson received emails about Wolfpack Athletics Director Lee Fowler before and shortly after Woodson took office. The faithful have been restless for several years, blaming the woes of the football and basketball programs on Fowler who hired both Sidney Lowe and Tom O’Brien.
What is surprising is the remote possibility that the opinions of 29 people who, according to a story in Sunday’s The News & Observer, emailed Woodson, former temporary Chancellor James Woodward and Fowler, had anything solid to do with Fowler’s dismissal.
From the newspaper’s article, written by Ken Tysiac: “The e-mails reveal a deep discontent among at least a faction of N.C. State fans who insisted on being heard by interim chancellor Woodward and then by Woodson as the university’s administration underwent changes at the top.”
Maybe Tysiac meant to say a small “fraction” instead of just a “faction” because if only 29 people wrote emails during that span there was not a lot of ground-swell to get rid of Fowler during the period of emails, Feb 1 through early May. And if decisions were made based on those emails only, then it’s time to either change administrations, again, or to fire several other people in the administration such as, for instance, Vice Chancellor of Advancement Nevin Kessler who is not doing his job in the more important role of chief fund-raiser for the University. His efforts pale in comparison to that of Fowler.
There was much more outrage when Kessler and his lackey Woodward fired then NCSU Alumni Association Executive Director Lennie Barton. I recall meeting Woodson at a reception in Reynolds Coliseum just after the UNC Board of Governors agreed with UNC President Erskine Bowles to hire Woodson. I extended my hand to his and introduced myself, “Chancellor Woodson, I’m Jim Pomeranz,” I said. Woodson, shaking my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Very nice to meet you, and let me tell you I know of your concerns (about Kessler and Barton). And, there are many, many others who have your same concerns.”
Just based on that conversation, the outrage over Barton’s dismissal and Kessler’s inability was greater than the recent emailing about Fowler.
That said, the disappointment in Fowler, directly related to the results of the basketball and football teams as well as most all other sports, has been a sore subject for several years. In the past year, several regular Wolfpack followers have communicated that they refuse to buy season tickets to football and basketball or attend any Wolfpack sports event as long as Fowler is in charge. Now, they’ve changed their tune since the announcement of Fowler’s dismissal. They’re saying they’ve now applied for football tickets for the 2010 season and are looking forward to returning to the RBC Center for basketball games.
In reality, the idea of replacing Fowler has been stirring for several months, if not years. Chancellors prior to Woodward weren’t interested in replacing Fowler as much as they were interested in replacing head coaches. And, Fowler did himself no favors when Herb Sendek voluntarily left the Wolfpack basketball program and Fowler hop-scotched around the country looking for a head basketball coach before settling on Lowe who had no college coaching experience. And, when it was time to replace Chuck Amato as head football coach, Fowler settled on O’Brien who hasn’t done very well in that capacity.
So, when Woodward showed his true, weak colors and caved into the wishes of Kessler to fire Barton, it was obvious to several “high-rolling” supporters that Woodward could also make the decision to fire Fowler. One man’s lackey is another man’s salvation when it comes to decision-making. And, does anyone think that Woodson, who replaced Woodward, would reverse the decision? If so, there’s plenty of oil splattered beach front in the Gulf of Mexico for sale. Go get it.
Those emails from 29 people did nothing to continue or prevent the termination of Lee Fowler. Once Woodward made the decision to halt the contract of Fowler, it was a done deal. What would be interesting to know is who told Woodward to do it and when, possibly sometime last fall. I doubt Woodward made the decision on his own. Someone had his ear on this subject, and emails about that would be a lot more interesting to read than what was reported in Sunday’s newspaper.