It's too early to tell whether Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan, who's a former N.C. State basketball player, will be a target of the school's search to replace departing athletic director Lee Fowler.
But Stokan did lay out one intriguing and perhaps controversial idea Tuesday when asked whether he is interested in the job. Stokan said N.C. State needs to consider moving its home basketball games back on campus to Reynolds Coliseum.
Since the 1999-2000 season, N.C. State has played near the State Fairgrounds at the RBC Center, which it shares with the Carolina Hurricanes. Fans only fill the stands for home games against the most attractive opponents, and the atmosphere is hardly intimidating for opposing teams.
Reynolds was much louder, and Stokan would like N.C. State to raise the roof there to add suites and extra seating and restore the competitive advantage that the atmosphere there gave the Wolfpack. He acknowledged that more seats at the RBC Center lead to more revenue for athletics, but still would like N.C. State to play in its old home arena.
"I’d move the games back to Reynolds Coliseum" Stokan said. "I think that’s the history and tradition. That court, that facility, was worth five wins a year. To me, Reynolds, Carmichael [Auditorium at UNC] and Cameron [at Duke], there are the three best facilities in the country. I think we’ve lost something. Obviously we’ve gained something with RBC because financially it’s probably a really good situation. I don’t know all the information on it. But I think we’ve lost something with the history and tradition at N.C. State. And I think Duke has capitalized on that and maybe we’ve lost some of that by going to RBC."
Stokan wouldn't say whether he's interested in replacing Fowler. He praised Fowler's building of facilities and hiring of coaches Sidney Lowe in basketball and Tom O'Brien in football, and said he is willing to assist new chancellor Randy Woodson in any way necessary.
"It’s appropriate now for the new chancellor to really talk to a lot of people," Stokan said. "If he thinks I can help in that process, I would be more than willing to talk to him and help with some thoughts, because my passion and my belief is I want N.C. State to be successful, and I think it can be with the fans, the Wolfpackers, the facilities and the coaches they have there. And the academics. There are great academics to recruit to."
And there's an arena arrangement for basketball that Stokan would like to see changed.