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May 07, 2010

Controversial Comments

Thursday's public comments by Coastal Executive Vice President Eddie Dyer were a talking point on campus Friday. They also drew the ire of Grand Strand-based agent Joel Turner, who lashed out at Dyer and former Coastal Athletic Director Warren Koegel.

Turner represents three former Chanticleers who have all found homes in the NFL: Tyler Thigpen, Quinton Teal and Mike Tolbert.

Note that Turner's comments, like those from Dyer, were unsolicited. This is the transcription:

"For Eddie Dyer to make that comment regarding the football program showed the ignorance he has regarding the football landscape in what was formerly Division I-AA and now the FCS level," Turner said. I do wonder if Mr. Dyer has left campus to see the mega-structures at places like Delaware, Montana and UT-Chattanooga, where they hosted the national championship for years. There is a new facility at Appalachian State that is nicer than two members of the Atlantic Coast Conference; much less at Georgia Southern where they have the "Six (national championship) Flags over Georgia" flying. If Eddie Dyer thinks that football program is ready to compete for a national championship then he must also think Coastal is ready to compete with Duke and Harvard on an academic level.

"The former athletic administration did not provide the funding for that program to be adequate to where it should be today. They were supposed to have that field house in 2005 and it's now 2010 and it's finally being completed, five years over schedule. So how in the world can he make that statement with any qualification whatsoever knowing that the stadium they play in is not even equivalent to two of the high school stadiums in Spartanburg County. If he really thinks that program is ready to compete on that level for a national championship, he might want to take a step back and look at the budgets and the salaries and the stadiums at Montana, at Chattanooga, at App, at Georgia Southern. Right here in our own state, Wofford, Furman and, for that matter, Division II Benedict College in Columbia have bigger and probably nicer stadiums by far than what Coastal has. Although bricks and mortar don't win championships, they go a long way in helping students win. Eddie Dyer obviously forgot or just did not make the statement in any what shape or form that since the football team came to Coastal, the student body has tripled. Before the football team, Coastal was rated as a bottom-tier school in US News and World Report. Given very little credit in the academic realm, it had no standing athletically.

"Now since football, look at everything there. Baseball has done a great job. The baseball team is on much firmer ground than the football program, but he didn't say the baseball team should be competing for a national championship. It's true because they are probably in better shape to compete for a national championship than the football team is even with their stadium being what it is, even with their coaches offices being what they are. The reason being is the baseball team has been around for 30-plus years. We're looking at a football program that has been playing seven seasons. That's it. Seven seasons. They have produced six people who have put on an NFL helmet. I represent three of the six that have had any success whatsoever. They've had two draft picks. They've had guys start in the NFL, all three of which are my clients. So the program with three conference championships and an appearance in the NCAA playoffs, is quite frankly ahead of schedule but nowhere near ready to compete for a national championship. Until their budget actually increases every year without having to take budget cuts and until they can get business cards printed out of the budget instead of the head coach having to pay to have business cards printed, Eddie Dyer needs to take a step back and reevaluate his statements before he starts making demands on the football team.

"I have three clients who would love to give money to the athletic department and particularly the football team. But all three are so disenchanted with the athletic department as a whole and the way things were being done, all three have said they will not give more money until they see things change around there to their liking. Most of this can be attributed to the previous administration of the athletic department, but that is where things are. They have done a very, very, very poor job of fundraising in all regards there. Only this year did they finally do anything at that stadium to show in any way shape or form that they have players in the National Football League. It took three years to accomplish that, which is inexcusable on behalf of the former athletic department chair.

"When you look at that stadium it looks good on the outside, but it's still only 8,000 seats and that field house is not going to win a national championship. You have to have money to recruit. When your coaches don't even have enough money to get on a plane and go recruit, then you are a far cry from being able to compete for a national championship. Their recruiting budget is drastically underfunded. Their overall operating budget is underfunded. In these lean times in South Carolina, when everybody is facing cutbacks and teachers are losing their jobs, it is very true that those funds are hard to come by from the state, because I don't know if any funding is given to that athletic department from the state. But if they are having to go out and raise money, they need to do a better job of raising money. Simple as that. They need to do a better job.

"I really think the statement he made was unqualified and ignorant. Considering that I do have knowledge of what I'm talking about from eight years of coaching and 18 years of professional experience in athletics -- it's actually 21 years because prior to that I worked in the athletic departments at Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford as a student. I've been around the block. I've got 21 years of experience in this kind of work. So, I know a little bit about it, and I know what it takes for these guys to succeed. I can tell you right now that what they've done is a miracle. Asking them to compete with Montana, asking them to compete with Appalachian State, Villanova, and, even though Delaware's program has gone downhill the last couple of years, the program is still so comfortable it's not even funny. Don't forget that [Coastal] beat James Madison, beat Furman, beat Wofford, won three conference championships. Since then, their budgets have decreased. They don't have what they had four years ago in their operating budgets from four years ago to my understanding. But the school has certainly benefited from the football team. There is no question. I don't think that can be disputed in any way shape or form.

"It took a lot of [confidence] for him to say as the executive vice president that he was noted for making a statement, but the reality of it is that it was a pretty ignorant statement to make considering where Coastal's program is in its infancy and it's lack of facilities versus programs that have been around for 50, 70 and 100 years and the money that they have. You compare it to Wofford's program, a private school where the average SAT is 1,300, to Coastal's, and then you'll see where Coastal's program is. It's a miracle they are where they are. Dave Bennett has done a marvelous job, and I'm speaking both analytically and from the heart. I've known Dave since 1992. We've had a friendship for that long. So, I've known the man a long time. They've got the people in place. They don't have the money for the people to use. That goes to the athletic department chair, it goes to the head of the Chanticleer [Athletic Foundation], it goes to the people that raise money for the university. I can tell you right now that university has fared much better because of that football team than it ever did prior to it."

To provide some background, I pulled some numbers from the U.S. Department of Education. However, I've found over the years that sometimes there are problems with how this information is collected and reported, which may explain the drastic changes from year to year over the first four seasons. I feel confident the final two years are accurate.

Coastal's operating budget by year:

2003: $292,547
2004: $183,026
2005: $277,875
2006: $137,691
2007: $620,386
2008: $642,235

In comparison, Montana's operating budget in 2008 (2009 data is not yet available) was $1,033,997 and Appalachian State's was $689,871.

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