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June 13, 2013

Q&A with Debbie Yow, part III




On Tuesday, less than 48 hours after NC State's baseball team clinched a trip to the College World Series, Wolfpack athletics director Debbie Yow sat down with The Wolfpacker for an exclusive 30-minutes interview.

In part II of our interview, Yow talks about her thoughts on the current state of Wolfpack athletics and its primary revenue sports. In part II she shared her views on non-revenue sports and some of the other issues regarding NCSU athletics.

In this final part of Yow's interview, we discuss pertinent matters involving both the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA.

There was a report that Coach Krzyzewski made almost $10 million last year, and there was a report in Sports Illustrated about Alabama having about two dozen support staff in football, some of them former high profile assistants. Are you worried or comfortable that NC State can stay competitive in coaching salaries?

"I know we are [competitive] right now in terms of who we hire. I know we are very careful in the profile that we target. All of that is year-to-year. As an example, the number of people on support staff, it could be that the NCAA imposes limits on that soon.

"In terms of making $10 million or for that matter $4 million, no we will not be able to do that in all likelihood. Could we do better than we are now over the long haul if it's warranted, probably, but not in the stratosphere of $4, 5, 6 million dollars. Most schools will not be able to do that, nor is it warranted in most cases.

"I could make a case that you don't need that kind of money to have terrific coaches, but you do have to have an eye for evaluation of coaches. It's easy to pick out the top coach in the nation and say, 'That's the one that I want.' The same one that everyone else wants. When you can't afford to do that, you need to really have enough experience and propensity for trying to figure out who the great coaches are going to be.

"I believe that we have two here that in that category both in football and men's basketball."

How crucial do you see is the possibility of an ACC Network?

"The network is critical for us. It can't happen soon enough. I understand it could be as long as three years before we announce it's getting ready to happen and three years past that before we get ready to announce it's financially lucrative. That's six years from now. We wouldn't be able to count on that money for six years.

"We need that very, very badly. There's a correlation between having the network up-and-running and being financially viable and having our ability to pay our coaches and to provide for our teams.

"I just saw where I think Michigan is building a $13 million field hockey facility. That blows my mind, but they have the Big 10 TV contract and their network is lucrative, so I guess they can afford to build a $13 million field hockey stadium.

"I've had people ask me if we would ever field a lacrosse team here. We won't because our goal is to be able to provide better for our 23 teams we have, not to add another mouth at the table to feed. We won't be enlarging our athletic programs, but by the same token I hope to never have to be able to drop sports either."

Do you think the ACC Network is feasible?

"I think it's feasible. I think it's actually beneficial in some ways for the SEC network to start before ours because there is crossover territory. Say in Atlanta, if the cable stations want the SEC Network for Georgia, I'm pretty sure they are going to need to take ACC Network and Georgia Tech.

"We also might be able to learn from the mistakes of others. The SEC network is more like what we are trying to do versus the Big 10, which is a whole different financial model. I think the model that we are pursuing and the SEC is pursuing makes a lot sense."

Does the grant of rights that the ACC agreed to, in your opinion, put an end to all the major conference expansion?

"It has to. Who would take you without your TV rights? Our TV contract is very lengthy, so yes it's over. You'll never hear a peep from anyone about another rumor."

So you don't think that 16-team conferences are the future?

"I don't know what the future holds. I will tell you that most of the ADs would never want to add anyone else that couldn't contribute their share financially, so whatever the share is per school in the payout from the TV contract, you have to start there and say, 'Would school X bring that share because we don't want to go down in our distribution.'

"But I don't think anybody is thinking about that at all at the moment, to be candid with you."

This is Maryland's last go-around this year. Do you have any personal thoughts about that?

"Not really, other than I think it's ironic in this regard. We all know that neither Florida State or Maryland voted for the $52 million buyout. I think it's also safe to assume that [Maryland] would not have voted for the grant of rights because that's much more expensive than the $52 million. The grant of rights means that you are basically in the ACC forever.

"I think it's ironic that when they left we added Louisville, and Louisville was more than willing to vote for the grant of rights. This vote for the grant of rights was not a normal ACC vote. When we vote for something, it usually requires 2/3 or 3/4 of the vote. This one vote, the grant of rights, required 100 percent agreement among the 15 schools.

"Had we not been able to do that, there would be no grant of rights. I think it's safe to assume that Louisville was part of the reason for the grant of rights because they were willing to vote for it."

SEC commissioner Mike Slive is pushing hard for a cost of attendance stipend for players. Do you have any personal opinions on that?

"I'm in favor of a stipend for people who are Pell Grant eligible because it's proven they have unmet needs. I am in favor of that. I'm not in favor of an across the board of stipend. People do not seem to understand the law and Title IX. You cannot just give a stipend to all the football players and men's basketball players.

"You also have to give a stipend at that point to the equivalent number of women. There are 85 football scholarships and 13 men's basketball scholarships. Now you have to also pick 98 women. That's basically, but not completely, how that works.

"Why would we in any sport be giving anyone who comes from a family of means additional money above and beyond the full scholarship? It's complex. I really gravitate towards needs-based, so if you are Pell Grant eligible I think you should get the stipend. Pell Grant eligible students have proven that they have an unmet need, both men's and women's."

On the subject of college football, there are a couple of hot-button issues. Your thoughts on the upcoming four-team playoffs?

"I really wanted eight teams, and I told [ACC commissioner] John Swofford that long ago. I believe it will be eight teams at some time, I just wish it had been now. There is a lot of political pressure I think from the presidents to not come out with an eight-team playoffs.

"But I think it would have been the right thing to do and would have settled the playoffs model for many, many years. I think it will eventually evolve into that."

What about nine-game conference schedules for football?

"I voted for nine and it passed. Then we came back in October of 2012 as ADs, the subject was raised by someone and we lost the revote. The vote at that time was five in favor of nine games and seven in favor of eight.

"It was very late to lose that and it wrecked havoc with our schedule for 2013. That's how we ended up with Louisiana Tech on the schedule, because we lost an ACC game that October. As you know in football scheduling, you schedule so far out, it's very challenging at that point.

"I think we found an excellent school: a high-powered, high-scoring offense, and as it turns out Coach [Skip] Holtz will be there now. I think it'll be an exciting game, a very challenging game for Coach Doeren and our young team."

Do you have any future football schedule updates?

"What I have been working on most recently is in 2014. Our schedule is only five home games, and that's a formula for disaster financially. That has not been very fun to try to fix. We are working on that, but we don't have a lot of choices. We've been working on it for a while actually, but in football scheduling things are scheduled so far in advance.

"We are trying to turn that into seven home games and five road games and do the best we can. I didn't think we were going to need to do that until October because I thought we were going to have nine ACC games."

So to wrap up, it's been three years since, like you said last year, you came home. How do you feel about things right now?

"I feel terrific, as energized as I was three years ago about the future. I enjoy the journey of building and hiring great coaches and helping the great coaches that we inherited take it to the next level in terms of competitive achievements and academic achievements.

"It's not for everyone and I realize that, but it is for me. I love being here. I still gravitate towards: Wolfpack Unlimited, Refuse to Accept the Status Quo. I believe for 25 years, people have underestimated our capabilities, our talents, our resources, our fans, everything.

"Watching it change and being part of it is a dream come true. We're in the middle of all this right now. We're not where we want to be, but I do believe we are better off than where we were. We have to maintain our focus. That's my theme right now with coaches and senior administrators. We cannot lose focus even when we have disappointments.

"When we played the 18-inning game against UNC, I think we were all crushed because we tried so hard. I asked Elliott [Avent] if I could come and talk to the team, and he said I could. They were meeting that Monday at 11:30, and I went over to talk to them about who they are and how far they can go.

"Sometimes, all people need are encouraging words. The coaches do and the athletes do. They need to know that we appreciate their efforts even on a day when the outcome is not what we want because there will be other chances, other opportunities.

"I said to someone I will never be part of an 18-inning baseball game again, what a unique experience, and two weeks later: 17 innings. We were all talking about that as it occurred. I liked the outcome a lot better. Winning at the end of 17 is a whole different experience than losing after 18 innings.

"My greatest thrill that night was knowing that they have had the opportunity to actually enjoy the fruits of their labor. They persevered in the ninth, down three runs, we tied it and they pulled it out. It was special."



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