A Sit Down with USC Upstate Interim Athletic Director Lee Fowler
On May 20, 2013, USC Upstate named Lee Fowler as its interim athletic director. He officially became the athletic director on Oct. 5. Fowler, who most recently was the director of basketball operations for the Sun Belt Conference, is a well-known name in the realm of college athletics. He has coached in a Final Four, held the position of director of athletics at Memphis, and launched Middle Tennessee State University into Division 1A. He also raised millions of dollars during his time as the athletic director at North Carolina State University.
While Fowler has a resume ranging from coach to athletic director, many have been surprised when it was announced he was to take the position of interim AD here at USC Upstate. Fowler seized the opportunity to speak to the Carolinian. Fowler discussed how he initially came in contact with USC Upstate, some of his plans and goals for the university, and even shared some stories about his time in the business of athletics. During the entire conversation with Fowler, he was honest, open, and direct in what he hopes to accomplish during his time as interim athletic director.
After a small break, what drew you back to the business of athletics?
I really didn’t take a break from the business. I did consulting for the Sun Belt Conference. I was one of their basketball consultants for three years. I didn’t work full time, but I worked during basketball season. Doing that, I went to each campus, and tried to help them, how to make their basketball better. Because of my past experience, the chancellor would say, “Could you look at our overall program and tell us what to do, not just basketball.” I got on campus again, visiting with student athletes, coaches, administrators, and just realized that I really miss the campus life. I really enjoy being on a college campus, and working in the university environment.
During your time at NC State, you raised over $100 Million in facility upgrades. What are some of the plans you have for Upstate?
I was very impressed when I got here. The facilities are really nice facilities, short of basketball not having enough seats. You would hope to have 2000-2500. Baseball is great, softball is great, and we need a track, which we will be working towards. We have already met with a few people about donating to help build a track for the track program.
If there were to be a football program here at USC Upstate, somewhere in the future, what are some of the things from an athletic standpoint that would need to take place?
Finances would need to get better to even think about doing that. You have to build something to play in. There is a lot that would need to be done, but the biggest thing is that it would need to be on the agenda. Football would make this university grow in enrollment, have more national publicity; those things would be made at a higher level than myself. It was previously reported that was what I was here to do.
With his recent appointment as athletic director, Fowler’s dedication and love for college athletics are easy to see, and although students may not feel the effect of his current decision making, there is sure to be an impact felt down the line for the progress of the university. Change is not always a huge event, and sometimes the most important type of change is that which happens on an incremental level.