Part I: Q&A With Debbie Yow

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Recently Pack Pride met with NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow and asked her a variety of questions submitted by our premium subscribers. Here is Part I of our four-part interview with the Wolfpack's AD!

Pack Pride got the opportunity to sit down with NC State athletics director Debbie Yow and discuss a number of issues surrounding Wolfpack sports.

Yow touched on a variety of topics in our forty-five minute interview, and in today's segment she looks back on the recent men's basketball coaching search.

NOTE: The questions asked were submitted by our premium subscribers.

How was the men's coaching job viewed by potential candidates? What did you feel like was the perception of the job after talking with candidates?
Our men's basketball position was considered to be a very challenging position. I'm assuming it would have been easier five years ago because we were coming off of five consecutive NCAA appearances. Instead of that we were coming off of no NCAA appearances.

I didn't consider that to be daunting or discouraging because I think I managed my expectations early on. I assumed it would be viewed as a very challenging job because we had not been successful.

It was all about finding the right coach with the right attitude, as well as the basketball pedigree. I think we found that in coach Gottfried.

When did coach Gottfried first emerge as a legitimate candidate for the position?
He indicated to me fairly early on that he was interested, but I didn't believe him. I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that he would consider leaving ESPN. It looked like a really neat job... working six months out of the year and then going home to Alabama to be with his family.

We talked some more during the Final Four weekend, and I decided that it did seem to me he was serious about the job. I still wasn't totally convinced so we needed to see each other face-to-face to talk some more. We arranged a trip for him to Raleigh the day after the championship game.

What factors did you seriously consider when evaluating candidates? What were the most important qualities that you were looking for?
There is more than one profile of the type of coach who could be successful at NC State. It could be an up-and-coming coach who has surprised people with the level of success he's had early... that is one profile.

The other profile is someone who has been around the game a lot longer, been a head coach at more than one place, and had success. That was Mark. But, who also had tough times too, and that was Mark as well... toward the end of his tenure [at Alabama].

What attracted me to Mark's profile was there isn't any replacement for the experience. I knew he had learned a lot and grown a lot as a coach, and I knew he was absolutely transfixed on the idea of being here in the ACC competing against our rivals.

I knew that it was more than a bluff because he had played and coached in another major league, another equity league. He has already walked the walk to a certain degree.

I liked his recruiting expertise. I know that you don't become the No. 1 ranked team in the country by accident. So he's been to the top of the mountain, and he's been at the bottom of the mountain.

I liked the profile for us. It says to me that there is a toughness there and a level of experience that he's going to stick with this.

When evaluating coaching candidates, what are your thoughts in terms of recruiting ability vs. coaching ability?
It has to be both. There are no perfect coaches. I was always a coach who appreciated recruiting. I still tell our coaches here now the same thing. It doesn't matter how much you know as a coach if the players can't execute what it is you know. It will be an incredibly frustrating experience for you and them because you know what needs to be done and have communicated it, but they aren't talented enough to execute it.

It always starts with the players. Always. In my estimation, it starts with the players and then you have to also partner that with X-and-O ability.

There is also a third part to that, relationship. There is so much going on in a player's life in 2011, whether it's a tough family background, trouble with their girlfriend, trouble with school, maybe all of the above. As a coach, you have to build those relationships and be able to connect with your players.

I believe those three components have to be in place to establish an excellent program instead of being lucky and good every now and then.

When you hire coaches for various sports, how big of a factor is recruiting upside?
It's the first thing. It's first. Can you recruit? Do you understand the value of talent? Or, do you think you are all that as a coach and you will coach them up? If you are somebody that will coach them up and you're competing against another program where they are also going to coach people up, but they have better players, then you are going to lose.

I think it has to be both.

A lot of fans on our boards seem to believe that the articles from some of the media about the fanbase may have impacted the search. They feel it was due to the media's relationship with the fans and/or NC State. Do you think that is true?
There is some of that. When the coaching search started, I believe three weeks before Sidney resigned, they were already writing some pretty nasty things about our fanbase. It came from their own feelings. I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all.

First of all it is unjust. The second thing is it makes it tougher, more challenging to hire. I think there is some of that there.

Is there anything as an athletics department you can do to change that?
I think Mark can help with that. He worked with ESPN, and he knows a lot of them. I think that will help.

Over time I think I'll get around to talking to some of them. I don't even know some of them, who wrote some of the nastiest things, but I'm not opposed to trying to bridge the gap.

I think there is some work to be done there, I do. To be candid with you, I was defending our fans with some of them. Really, what do we want? What do you think we should have, an apathetic fanbase? You're going to get the passion both ways, when things go well and things don't go so well.

We have a very passionate fanbase, and that is one of the things that is special about NC State.


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