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May 18, 2011

Q&A with Debbie Yow, part I

In the first week of July of 2010, Deborah A. Yow began work as the new athletics director at NC State. Over 10 months later she approaches the end of her first sports calendar year in Raleigh, and Yow sat down with The Wolfpacker this week for almost 25 minutes to discuss the "State of the Pack" for a feature that will appear in the upcoming football preview magazine.

Here is part I of Yow's interview with The Wolfpacker.

What is, in your opinion, the state of the athletics department right now?

"We are an athletics program that right now has tremendous amount of hope and opportunity to improve significantly, but we are going to have three things to make that happen. The right people in the right jobs, enough financial resources to do our work and we are going to have to be smart enough to seize the opportunity that we have and recognize them when they occur. That's basically in a nutshell how we are approaching where we are."

How do you feel about the current financial situation of the athletics department?

"Our financial situation is tenuous in the sense that we do have a budget in the current fiscal year where we ranked 11 our of 12 (ACC teams) in per sport expenditure, but we are going to be able to do better in the future. We are looking at every contract that we have, every business deal that we have in trying to figure out how we better those. We believe we are going to sell more football season tickets this year. We believe we are going to sell more basketball season tickets this year. It's going to take a number of different areas that need to improve to get us where we need to go, but those are a couple of areas that we are looking at now."

Last year I talked with Chancellor [Randy] Woodson around this time and he said one of his goals, might have been his No. 1 goal, was to get revenue up. Is there a number or status you are looking to reach?

"I think as a general position if we can be a program that has the resources that puts us in a position of having the average per sport expenditure in the ACC that we will be in a position to overachieve and beat people who have more money than we have. With the new T.V. deal kicking in July, everybody's numbers are going to change, but they are going to change exactly the same amount, $3.9 million. That sounds like a lot of money, but it isn't in most of the ACC schools' budget because of the number of sports we sponsor but also because Division I program, and what we pay revenue coaches.

"It's a start, but we can't stay where we are right now."

What about the apparel deal? Has there been any progress?

"[Senior associate AD] Chris Kingston is on point to manage the apparel opportunity, and we're talking to Adidas, to Nike and to Under Armour. What I can say for sure is we are not going to give away this program. We'll look at the numbers. We'll see who's competitive, who's not, and try to make a decision that's reasoned and prudent to the future of our program at that point, but we're just now talking to those institutions about numbers."

That would not be for the coming year but the year after that?

"Think of it as a phasing in over a year if we do it. It just takes time as you roll through the seasons in different sports."

Are there any other specific areas that you have identified as potential revenue sources?

"Other than the apparel deal, the multimedia rights contract, the revenue share for parking at athletic events, the revenue share for licensing that is received by the university, above and beyond that the only thing we need to make sure is that the Wolfpack Club can pay the scholarship bill and make the transfer for naming rights to us in a planned sequence that we can anticipate so that we know the cash flow is available."

Has there been anything that has surprised you in the last 10 months about the job?

"There have been a couple of positive surprises and then a couple of other that are not as positive. I have been mildly surprised at the level of passion of our fans. I knew that we were passionate. I knew that from my relationship with Kay, the 34 years she was women's basketball coach, but it's still different in a day-to-day basis. So I was mildly surprised by the volume of mail that I received, which is a reflection of that passion.

"Our position that we would answer every email has been taxing, but we said we would and we have to continue to. It's important because our fans need to know that we respect them. We are still going to continue down that road.

"I was surprised by a number of the business arrangements that we have in athletics and how outside the norm they are for Division I intercollegiate athletics. While that is not a positive, the positive is there is only one way to go and that's up. That's why we are going to focus on those.

"There is a law called a Law of Forced Efficiency. It basically says that we only spend 20 percent of our time on things that produce 80 percent of the positive changes. We will have spend more than 20 percent of our time on the positive work that make changes to better the athletic program. We're trying discipline ourselves to take care of those things that really matter in the long run for us that will help us win games and graduate student athletes."

Are there any plans to restructure the athletic department?

"Yes, we are restructuring constantly in the sense that we are trying to put together a master plan. We have a strategic plan that's been developed over the last eight to nine months that is in draft right now, and a number of our boosters have participated in a number of our committees to help plan our future. We'll probably be rolling that out in July once it's finalized. Campus has been very supportive of our work in that area as well.

"That's one thing that's happening right now."

In part II - Yow breaks down some recent hires in the athletic department and details some facility upgrades in the plans or under construction.

N.C. State NEWS


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