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Another “OMG Y’ALL FIRED FOWLER!?!” Piece

June 24, 2010

First off, before I go into attack mode, let me state this for the record: This article comes from the, the website of The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Frankly, in the pantheon of professional publications (use of alliteration: +5) that can be taken to task, this is pretty low-hanging fruit. Community newspapers–while VERY important and a tragic casualty of the dying newspaper industry–typically hire writers either straight out of college or folks with little-to-no formal journalism background. You could make a killing if you got paid skimming the paper and were paid by the typo.

It’s kinda like laughing at a 5-year-old trying dunk a basketball. Yeah, it’s cute and funny, but you feel kinda heartless.

Nevertheless, they deserve to be mocked. Roundly.

Fowler Will Be Honored For Job He No Longer Has

Right off the bat–no byline. Who wrote this? The Sports Editor? The College Section Editor? The Editor-in-chief? Since this is an opinion piece, you ALWAYS attribute who the author is. The default assumption for op-ed pieces without bylines is that they speaks for the entire paper, a very dangerous thing to do unless the entire paper signs off on it. (In this instance, however, not too many people give much of a sh*t about Fowler, so they’re ok. Again, something you see happen at smaller, community papers. Still need to follow protocol, however.)

Here’s the first page:

    At a luncheon today in Anaheim, Calif., Lee Fowler will be honored by his peers for being athletic director of the year for universities in the Southeast.

    The North Carolina State and former MTSU AD will receive the award presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. According to the NACDA, the award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to campuses and their surrounding communities.

    “It’s a great honor,” Fowler said Wednesday from the Las Vegas airport while making connections to Los Angeles. “Anytime you receive an honor like this that is voted on by the people who do what you do, it is very special.”

    Ironically, Fowler will no longer be the athletic director at NC State come a week from today, having been forced out of the position by a new university chancellor — the fourth for which Fowler has worked during his nearly 11 years in the position.

    “I had four chancellor changes at the top,” he said. “That kind of makes it tough to make things work, but I am very positive about the future of NC State athletics and where they are when they get a new AD.”

    But Fowler did make it work at NC State. Having gone several decades without any significant facility improvements, Fowler oversaw nearly $130 million in upgrades to the football stadium, baseball complex and several other on-campus venues.

    “I don’t take any credit for that,” Fowler said modestly. “I was just glad to be a part of it.”

    But it came on Fowler’s watch, just like when he was at MTSU and the renovation of Floyd Stadium that allowed the football program to move from Division I-AA to Division I-A. It was Fowler and the school’s former president, the late Dr. James Walker, who dreamed the dream of MTSU competing at the highest level of college football.

    Fowler also ran a clean athletic department at NC State. There were no NCAA violations during his tenure, and the athletic program always showed a profit. And the NC State faculty unanimously passed a resolution applauding Fowler for fostering academics within the athletics framework.

OK, a couple of things:

  1. Forget the sham that is this award for a moment. We’ve already been over that before. Why in the hell is Fowler blaming chancellor turnover on his ability to do a good job? Is this the “Jason Campbell” defense at play here? “Well, I wouldn’t have screwed up the football and basketball hires as badly as I did if I didn’t have to learn a new chancellor’s dang playbook every so often.”
  2. And it’s mighty generous, disingenuous and clearly apologetic on the part of the paper to say that Fowler has had to deal with four chancellors during his tenure. I’ll give him two: Fox and Oblinger. The other two came in the last year of his term. Woodward was an interim after Oblinger was fired demoted put out to pasture (wait, he’s still here?!?). Though, to Fowler’s point, Woodward did rather make it tough for him to do his job, given it was he that made the call to let him go. And Fowler’s been a lameduck under the brief couple of month’s of Woodson’s tenure, so that doesn’t count either.

  3. “But Fowler did make it work at N.C. State.” OK, here’s the classic Fowler apologist argument. It’s nearly ALWAYS made by those outside of State and Raleigh, and it’s 100% based on facility upgrades. Certainly, an athletic director is expected to oversee the growth of a school’s facilities and ensure that they provide the best chance to succeed on the recruiting trail. But facilities are only a small part of running a healthy athletics program. What of the performance of State’s athletic teams on the field? What of the academic performance of the teams in the classroom? Has this author (unknown) even heard of the Director’s Cup standings? Did they research the academic performance of State’s entire athletic department, where a couple of programs have flirted with penalties from the NCAA for low APR? So many questions whose answers would possibly open this author’s eyes to why Fowler was let go.

I could go on with other critiques of the piece. They’d all sound like arguments made many, many times refuting pieces just like this.

It’s just strange that–and perhaps it’s because I’m a State fan and am sensitive to it–we seem to be seeing the EXACT same news cycle that occurred after Herb Sendek left for ASU. Granted, the news outlets reporting Fowler’s “tragic” firing are more along the lines of than the CBS SportsLines and Yahoo Sports of the world that got vocal after Sendek’s “firing,” but it’s seems to be the same story: How could State and its fans let [fill in the blank] go?!?” And I can’t recall a time I saw a similar story regarding another school and their hiring/firing/personnel practices.

Just another for the pile, I guess.

One Comment leave one →
  1. sbas2 permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:24 pm

    interesting that you made reference to Jason Campbell. Redskins fan?

    first on Fowler, the fact that his department was in the “black” was a big reason as to why he stayed around as long as he did. money talks.

    as to Jason Campbell, its hard to tell how good or bad he is. this is not because of the coaching, but because of the poor offensive lines that the Redskins seemed to always have during his tenure. Snyder has destroyed the Redskins much as that boob who owns the Orioles has destroyed them-not that i even care about the Orioles. i am a life long Redskins fan, but don’t watch them much anymore due to Snyder thinking he can build a team becasue he is a fan.

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