Former Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina State athletic director Lee Fowler, one of three finalists for the UTC athletic director job, visited campus Wednesday. To see how the candidates think alike (or different), the Times Free Press is asking all three finalists the same three questions.
1. What draws you to UTC?
My interest is because it's in Tennessee. I've been in North Carolina about 13 years and I'm ready to come back home. I've watched Chattanooga over the years, when I played at Vanderbilt and was in the state of Tennessee, and I'm very excited about the opportunity.
I think I could make a real difference here. I've got a lot of national contacts and state contacts, and I'm really excited about what I've seen through the process today. I'm very interested in what's going on at Chattanooga, in the city and on campus -- it's really exciting stuff going on.
2. How big of a challenge will it be to come to an athletic department with an operating budget of about $12 million?
They're different, but a lot the same. You'll find out in a $48 million budget that everybody needs more money and in a $12 million budget everybody needs more money. Actually, when I left Middle Tennessee, I was running a $12 million budget -- that's what theirs was in 2000. ... I have experience with that, but it's all relative to who your competition is, who's in your conference and what they have. ...
Something I learned a while back, people who spend the most money, the majority of the time, win the most games in different sports. You have to give coaches the opportunity to win, the facilities to win, the time to get their teams up to where they can win.
3. What's the biggest challenge or issue in college sports today, especially for mid-majors like UTC?
I'm not sure anybody knows what's going to be next [in conference realignment], and that's something that's really scary. I think what's happened to conferences like the Sun Belt and the SoCon, what's going on is it's never reached down that far. This time it did. ...
I wonder about if it's positive for student-athletes and student-athlete welfare. I think most people in college athletics, I was just at the Final Four, I talked to a lot of people at the Final Four, and there's a lot of concern about, is it good for college athletics in the end?