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Debbie Yow's lasting legacy at NC State will be felt for decades

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NC State athletic director Debbie Yow engineered the Wolfpack's rise from No. 89 in the Directors' Cup before her arrival in 2010, to finishing No. 15 last year.
NC State athletic director Debbie Yow engineered the Wolfpack's rise from No. 89 in the Directors' Cup before her arrival in 2010, to finishing No. 15 last year.

NC State athletic director Debbie Yow’s lasting legacy could be bringing the Wolfpack into the 21st century of college athletics.

Before Yow was hired, NC State finished the 2009-10 year ranked No. 89 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup. Only Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Mississippi State and Kansas State were worst among current Power Five Conference colleges. Only nine out of 23 sports at State contributed to the Director’s Cup scoring that season.

Yow’s response to the situation was simple, and she stayed true to her mantra that she wanted every sport to challenge to be a top 25 program. To that end, she has hired 17 coaches since 2010, and only three have been dismissed thus far.

The various new hires helped NC State finish No. 15 in the Directors’ Cup last year thanks to strong performances across the spectrum. Nineteen programs contributed to the standings.

NC State was slotted 10th in the Directors’ Cup after this fall.

New NCSU athletic director Boo Corrigan doesn't have close to the issues that Yow had when she was hired in 2010.

NC State is well on its way for a banner last hurrah under Yow.

• Women’s basketball is undefeated at 20-0 and ranked No. 7 in the country.

• Men’s basketball cracked the top 25 for the first time since Feb. 2, 2013.

• Men’s swimming is ranked No. 5 in the country, and the women’s program is No. 6.

• Wrestling is ranked No. 8 nationally.

• The coed rifle squad is currently ranked No. 15 overall.

• The women’s tennis program is ranked No. 14 nationally — the highest ever in program history — and men’s tennis is No. 25.

• Gymnastics is checking in at No. 30 in the country.


NC State also added two of its crown jewels for facility improvements during the Yow era. The King-Close Indoor Practice Facility for football and some non-revenue sports and the renovation of historic Reynolds Coliseum were both huge achievements.

The privately funded Close-King facility opened in the summer of 2015, and cost $14 million to build. The Reynolds Coliseum project cost $35 million — $20 million from athletics and $15 million from the University — was completed in Sept. 2016.

Reynolds Coliseum also became the home of another Yow innovation. The Wolfpack had shockingly never created a Hall of Fame for its past stars until Yow arrived.

NC State also created a new clubhouse for the Lonnie Poole Golf Course during Yow’s tenure. Off the fields and courts, Yow re-worked NC State’s apparel deals with adidas and multimedia rights to increase revenue.

The arrangement with Adidas, inked in the summer of 2016, brought in $39 million over six years, making it, at the time, one of the 15 most lucrative in the country. The contract with Learfield Sports, signed in 2012, for multimedia rights was for 10 years and a minimum of $49 million.

Yet her greatest legacy, and gift to Corrigan, is a talented roster of coaches. Among them:

• Football coach Dave Doeren has led NC State to the second-best conference record in the ACC over the past two years (11-5) behind only Clemson and back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in 17 years.

• Wolfpack fans have wholly brought into the notion that "Kevin Keatts is a winner" at PNC Arena.

• Swimming and diving coach Braden Holloway has turned around NC State's program to become the ACC's elite unit and one of the best in the country. The men's team has dominated the conference and finished on the podium (top four) at NCAA Nationals for three straight years while winning multiple individual and relay national championships.

NC State is the first swimming program in the ACC to win a relay national title.

• Wrestling coach Pat Popolizio, who has coached multiple national champions and last year brought home the second-ever podium finish (top four) at the NCAA Wrestling Championships in ACC wrestling history.

• Women's basketball coach Wes Moore is building massive momentum to his program, leading it to its longest winning streak in program history (still active). The Wolfpack's No. 8 -ranked recruiting class in the country according tp ESPN features McDonald's All-American Jakia Brown-Turner.

• Women's soccer coach Tim Santoro has revitalized the program with three straight NCAA appearances, including a pair of Sweet 16s. The last postseason berth prior to his hiring came in 1996.

• Men's soccer coach George Kiefer led his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first two seasons after it had not been since 2009.

• Volleyball coach Linda Hampton-Keith led the Pack to its most ever ACC wins and first ever NCAA Tournament victory in 2017.

• Gymnastics coach Kim Landrus won a conference title last spring in her first year at the helm of the program.

• Tennis coaches Kyle Spencer (men) and Simon Earnshaw (women) have led their program to wins over top 15-ranked opponents this year. The women's team has been to three straight NCAA Tournaments, and the men's team was back in the postseason last year for the first time since 2015.

The group of coaches have won at levels that will have Pack fans recalling the Yow years with fondness.

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