The Wolfpacker

July-August 2020 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 49 of 51

50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER T he NC State Student Aid Association — most of us know it as the Wolfpack Club — is an organization in transition. That's not a negative, just a reality in a time when athletics fundraising is such a critical part of paying for both the long-term and short- term needs of college athletics programs. It has always been there for that, of course, and long before economic shutdowns, stay-at- home orders, and the loss of games and other university-sponsored activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition began when longtime and homegrown executive director Bobby Purcell announced his retire- ment after 33 years with the Wolfpack Club. His commitment to and passion for NC State athletics has been remarkable and ap- preciated. And he's not going far away, since he will join the administrative staff for direc- tor of athletics Boo Corrigan to help cultivate donors he has been stitched to for decades. But he has handed the duties of running the Wolfpack Club over to Ben Broussard, who was hired from Colorado to be Pur- cell's successor and the new executive direc- tor. The LSU graduate has an accomplished record in athletic development and a healthy appreciation for the 80-year-old structure he inherits, which works on a different model than most athletic support groups. The Wolfpack Club has always been completely independent of, but beneficial to, the university and the athletics depart- ment. It was set up that way in the 1930s with the advent of the "Doc" Newton Club, which became the Wolfpack Club in 1940. Through the years, the organization has re- lied on grassroots membership to provide the bulk of its annual operating expenses, which pays for the $14 million needed to fund more than 600 scholarships, the $10 million in debt service to facilities built on behalf of athletics and its own operating expenses. There has always been a need for big-gift donors, dating back to the Reynolds fam- ily's gift to help complete the funding for Reynolds Coliseum, the Carter brothers' and A.E. Finley's gift to name the football sta- dium, plus even bigger gifts from individu- als, families and organizations whose names are on the newest and most modern facilities. It is likely the organization, which has been independent of the university since its found- ing 80 years ago, will be more of the model Broussard came from at the Buff Club, where he was officially an assistant vice chancellor of advancement for the University of Colo- rado and a senior associate athletics director. Broussard has a great appreciation for the structure he has inherited that relies on the grassroots efforts of statewide districts and local leadership. He also hopes to work on the model of the university's $1.6-billion Think And Do The Extraordinary campaign, which has already exceeded its overall goal. The athletics portion of that is about $210 million for various long-term projects and endowment expansion. "Of the goals I hope to accomplish here, the first thing is not to break what works re- ally well," Broussard said. "So I'm going to work with the fan base and the people that have built that to make sure we maintain it. "I want to work with the people that have been on this campus for a long time to make sure that we build honest relationships, so that as we get to the next phase of buildings or programs that the athletic department needs, the Wolfpack Club can do what it's done for 80 years and continue to support the athletic department." How he does that, however, might look different than relying primarily on a large, low-cost membership that has been the stan- dard under previous leaders. "What I hope to do is bring in some of my experiences from LSU and Colorado," he explained. "There are some programs that I think we could do that can add value to the overall program, so that we can raise some more philanthropic dollars in support of the athletic department." Broussard, a native of Louisiana, is cer- tainly unlike any other leader the Wolfpack Club has had. His predecessors — from Harry Stewart to Warren Carroll to K.M. "Charlie" Bryant to Purcell — were North Carolinians who had previous working rela- tionships at the university before they took over leadership of the booster club. Each of those transitions were relatively smooth. Stewart, a dynamic and tireless speaker, helped get the club and athletics de- partment out of major debt when he took over as its first full-time leader. Soft-spoken Carroll, an NC State graduate who had run Raleigh's parks and recreation system, developed the well-organized local chapter structure that al- lowed it to remain independent of the school. Bryant, a former assistant basketball coach under Everett Case, Press Maravich and Norm Sloan, inherited a financially sta- ble organization. As he likes to say, the well was already dug; all he needed to do was keep it clean and dig a little deeper. He ben- efited from great athletic successes in the aftermath of both the 1974 and '83 NCAA championships in men's basketball, but took a hit during several economic downturns and the difficult departure of Jim Valvano as basketball coach and athletics director in the aftermath of NCAA and UNC Board of Governors investigations. Purcell moved to the Wolfpack Club from the football staff in 1987 and spent more than a decade working under Bryant, becom- ing its first executive director in 1991, when Bryant moved over to run the campaign to raise funds for a new basketball arena to replace Reynolds. Purcell's focus has been to maintain all relationships, while also run- ning the campaigns needed for football sta- dium improvements and general expansion and upgrades to all athletics facilities. Broussard's mission is to create even more momentum — not exactly easy in current times, but certainly attainable given the Wolfpack Club's history. "I think that the sky's the limit to what can happen for NC State athletics," Brous- sard said. ■ Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at New executive director Ben Broussard will try to expand the Wolfpack Club's reach and money raised while at the same time aiming "not to break what works really well." PHOTO COURTESY THE WOLFPACK CLUB PACK PERSPECTIVE Another Transition Ahead For The Wolfpack Club

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