5 Questions With Ben Broussard
The incoming executive director of the Wolfpack Club talks about building relationships and connecting with people as he reflects on his new position.
Ben Broussard recently began his leadership of the NC State Student Aid Association — commonly known as the Wolfpack Club — taking over in June for longtime Executive Director Bobby Purcell, who retired from that position after 33 years there and 39 years overall in Wolfpack athletics.
Broussard, his wife Dana, sons Jude and Evan and daughter Evie, moved to the Triangle from Boulder, Colorado, where he most recently was the assistant vice chancellor of advancement and senior associate athletic director at the University of Colorado.
The native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduate of Louisiana State University, is the first Wolfpack Club leader in the 80-year existence of the independent booster organization who didn’t have direct ties to NC State before coming here. But he certainly knows of its outstanding reputation in the field of athletics fundraising and the legacy that Purcell leaves behind.
Broussard will face new and different challenges as he begins his work at the direction of Chancellor Randy Woodson, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Brian Sischo and, of course, Athletics Director Boo Corrigan, who recently began his second year in that position.
Here are five quick questions with Broussard as he takes over the Wolfpack Club in a most unusual time in the world of college athletics.
You take over the position near the end of the university’s successful $1.6 billion Think and Do the Extraordinary campaign, as both the school and athletics begin to think about the next phase of fundraising and revenue generation. Can you share some of your thoughts and ideas about where to go from here?
The success Chancellor Woodson and Brian Sischo have had in this campaign is remarkable. It’s well ahead of schedule, which just doesn’t happen in campaigns on this scale. You have to give them kudos for the hard work and relationships they have put together during this time. Everything we do boils down to the building blocks of relationships and getting to know people. Ultimately, the genesis of fundraising is there is a great need and there are people out there with the means to help fix that need. Our job is to make them aware of the need and see if we can get them to invest in our program. My goal is to use the many years of wisdom of Bobby Purcell to meet the people that I need to meet, to lean into the staff, to lean into the chancellor and Brian Sischo, and ask them for advice on who the people are I need to get to know.
What are the unique challenges you are dealing with in these first weeks on the job?
What’s unique right now is the new environment in which we are doing business, right? The fact that we’re meeting people over the phone or meeting people over the computer screen versus a cup of coffee or a stack of pancakes. I would much rather be having lunch or playing golf or visiting someone’s home, getting to know them on a personal level, versus doing it over the phone. But it’s the same environment that the whole country is in. So we’ll make do the best we can.
Taking out the uniqueness of the time we live in, what are your goals for generating revenue and developing relationships with the members of the Wolfpack Club and the NC State community?
When you sit back and look at the goals of what I hope to accomplish, the first thing is not to break what works really well. One of the things that’s been built, that’s been an amazing success here over the last 25 years, is a fan base that’s dedicated to making sure the scholarship bill [of approximately $13 million per year] is fully funded for the benefit of our student-athletes. I’m going to work with the people who have built that to make sure we maintain it. I’m going to do everything I can to work with the people who have been on this campus for a long time to make sure that we keep honest relationships so that as we get to the next phase of buildings that the athletic department needs, that the Wolfpack Club can do what it’s done for 80 years and continue to support the athletics department. Secondly, what I do hope is to build on that by bringing in some of my experiences from LSU and Colorado.
Are there some programs 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? Yes, and I want to work with the experienced team that we have, the great coaches we have and the 500-plus student-athletes on this campus to get those done. I think that the sky’s the limit to what can happen for NC state athletics.
Outside of what you knew coming in, what have you learned about NC State, its athletics and the fan base that you will be working with here?
This is a long-winded answer to your question. The first thing that I’ve learned is that the people of North Carolina are exceptionally warm and welcoming. Everybody my family and I have come into contact with has been just tremendous in making us feel at home. They honestly care and genuinely want to make sure that my family is doing well. So as a guy who comes from South Louisiana, where family’s exceptionally important, I can’t tell you how much that means to me.
Beyond that, my two sons (12 and 10) have been helping me. They come to the office with me at times, and like all kids that age, they like to play video games. To be able to do that, they have to do a certain amount of reading. They have been reading the books about NC State history that we have here in the office, about the great basketball teams and football teams of the past, the history of championships and basketball coach Jim Valvano. So, as we spend time together, I ask them: tell me something new about Lou Pucillo or David Thompson or some of the people who have banners hanging in PNC Arena. They are my resident historians, mainly because of their desire to play Fortnite. I will barter video game time for education all day long.
Any final thoughts as you settle into this new adventure?
Well, the main thing is, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Bobby Purcell, and I don’t think I would have taken this job and moved my family across the country had it not been for knowing that Bobby’s going to be there for me to get me off the ground. I don’t think there’s a person on the planet who cares as much about any institution as he does about this place. And to the extent he can make sure I succeed in this job, I know that he will.