Part II: 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 II of our four-part interview with the Wolfpack's AD!

  • Part I: Debbie Yow Interview

  • 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 discusses football, basketball, and uniforms among other issues.

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

    Are there any current plans to increase the number of courtside seats for students in the RBC Center? Any specific plans for improving the "college" atmosphere?
    There are several things that the staff is talking about but they are all preliminary.

    That's what the summer is for. I think we've already given the students additional seats in the RBC Center, I believe five hundred seats, and we've given them an additional 1,000 seats this upcoming season in football. So, they are up 1,500 as a total as of right now.

    We've asked the RBC to put up the basketball setup so we can walk the floor and talk as we go around. I'm not sure I completely understand today the limitations we have with lifetime rights seating because obviously those are not going to move, but to the degree we can work around those we will. We are going to try and improve the atmosphere.

    We are in the process of ordering a new court. The Centennial Authority has approved the purchase of a new court, and I'm looking at a design that coach Gottfried is interested in and Chris Kingston is working with him closely on this. I think it is going to be a beautiful court.

    We're also ordering new seats for the RBC Center. New seats... red, chair-back seats which will also be beautiful so it's going to look different right away. All new seats and a new floor before we do anything else.

    There have been rumors about adding positions to coach Gottfried's coaching staff that hadn't been in place previously. Is that the case and do you have any specifics?
    We committed to him a position, I would call it high school relations, and he has yet to hire for that. It would be the major change.

    Also, we've hired Bob Alejo as our new strength & conditioning coach for men's basketball, but he is also going to be the head for that entire unit. We did not have a head of strength & conditioning so we had strength & conditioning coaches spread across different venues. They need a leader, one leader, where they can meet as professionals and talk about it. Bob is going to serve in that role.

    I like the structure so people know who they can go to for answers and if they have any concerns.

    When will east side restrooms be updated in Carter-Finley Stadium?
    I started talking to the staff about it and walking the east side back in the early spring. We're trying to get something done before this fall. I don't know if we will be able to or not, but we absolutely want to and need to.

    We are going to do something.

    It seems like your initial priorities are performance-related issues. Is that the case?
    I think that is true, but there is also a customer service element that needs to be addressed as well. If people are going to pay good money to watch our teams play then there should be quality amenities available to them, like heat in the bathrooms on the east side for instance.

    We are looking at all of those things right now and trying to prioritize them.

    Are we close to getting a football indoor practice facility? Once we do get an indoor facility would it be used for other sports?
    No, we are not close, and yes it would be used by other sports. We're not close because I'm still unraveling our very odd financial situation that I inherited in terms of our budget being so low and where does the money go? It isn't like anything I've ever seen.

    I need to wait until I truly understand where we are, what positive changes can be made, and where we will find additional revenue. How soon can we find it for operations?

    It needs to be stated that the No. 1 priority is not facilities right now. The No. 1 priority is operations. We have to be sure that our coaches are provided what they need to be successful. An indoor practice facility is really nice, but it is not near the top of the list.

    We need to be sure that we pay coaches well. We just added $100,000 to the recruiting budget and added $100,000 to the team's travel budget. I made recommendations to the Board of Trustees for increases in compensation for coach O'Brien, his two coordinators, and the assistants so we are hundreds of thousands of dollars in requests for changes there as well.

    Those come first and we're pushing the envelope right now to get those done. Also, hiring coach Gottfried and making sure he has a quality staff that is compensated well was a priority. Hiring a strength & conditioning coach as qualified as Bob Alejo was more expensive than what we had been paying, but it is something we feel like we needed to do to be successful.

    I'm not comfortable yet with our finances that we can do moves like those on a recurring basis and also bite off a new facility project that could be nearly ten million dollars... if we want to do it truly professional and state-of-the-art.

    Are we going to have "STATE" on our uniforms?
    Yes, we are going to have State on our uniforms. [Laughing] I'm probably asked about that once every two weeks.

    Back in the fall I was going through photos from the '60s and '70s, looking at uniforms. That is what I remember most from when I was little... those uniforms. Why don't we return to that? Why did we ever change it? That is who we were known as. I remember it always being State, Carolina, Duke and Wake. State, that's who we are.

    Coach O'Brien is fully supportive of the idea and coach Gottfried thinks it is a neat idea as well. He likes it because it is a basic, bold statement. We are here and this is who we are. We are State.

    It's a branding element that we need to take advantage of.

    When are we going to be able to tailgate longer than five hrs like free Americans? What will be the policy on halftime passes in football?
    No changes that I'm aware of right now. Again, I'm trying to focus on the items that produce wins. It is in the same category as passouts at halftime. There are people opposed to it and in favor of it. I just don't see the overall value in making changes to those policies right now when there are so many other changes that we need to make that will have a direct impact on our ability to win games.

    Where do you stand on a college playoff?
    I'm all about the money. If we were going to go the NCAA playoff route my No. 1 question would be who is getting the money? We tend to be socialistic in the NCAA, so if the idea is going to be we will triple the money but spread it around to Division II, Division III, Division I-AA, and then Division I-A will get their money... I'd have to look at that.

    If we're going to make any changes, I would like to know upfront what the financial model is. Are the people who make up the playoff model going to be the primary beneficiary or are we going to spread it all out too thinly?

    Are there any plans to introduce any other sports at NC State such as lacrosse, field hockey, or maybe ice hockey?
    NO, in all caps! We don't have the money to feed the mouths that we have now in the way I want to see them taken care of. There will be no others, and I don't see how that is possible in the foreseeable future.

    We have 23 varsity sports. I would say based on our funding we probably should have 18. There are only two options... drop sports or figure out how to generate more revenue. We're going to go out and try to find more revenue.

    In my office we refer to the Big Four and they are football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball They need to be taken care of. They are at the top of the list in terms of meeting needs and wants.

    My theory is our donors have donor fatigue. During Lee's tenure they did some terrific things in terms of facility improvements. Carter-Finley Stadium, the RBC Center, the softball stadium... our donors have given a lot, and I truly feel there is some degree of donor fatigue.

    That's why we need to turn to these business arrangements and try to figure out where to get new money from. We need to do that versus going back to our boosters and asking for more.

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