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

  • Part I: Debbie Yow Interview

  • Part II: 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 the financial issues associated with the program and a potential all-sports apparel deal.

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

    What changes or improvements are in the works to get us a better marketing 'arm?'
    The best marketing tool is winning, but there is no question that the expectations we have set for every program here have risen, and we are not where we should be.

    Chris Kingston is part of the answer to this. I hired him in September, and he understands marketing. He's restructuring the entire marketing unit now. In fact, we're restructuring the entire department as well as finishing up a strategic plan for the next five years. In about five weeks we'll have both finished, a new strategic plan and a newly restructured department where staff members could have different duties in different areas.

    It's really important given our financial situation that we do not waste money, and we get the biggest bang for our buck.

    What specific path forward will we take to address the financial shortfalls that have left us underfunded in most sports?
    We're going back to all our revenues sources. I'm trying to determine which contracts can be modified, and if they can, how quickly can they be modified?

    There really isn't a way to cut expenses... we were already 11 out of 12 in per-sport expenditure. That is not an option for us. The only option for us is revenue generation, so our focus will be on that.

    A lot has been made of the outstanding job you did eliminating a majority of the debt at Maryland. Can you compare the situations you inherited at both schools?
    Maryland had a $51 million dollar debt, and when I left there was $5.5 million in unfunded debt.

    I would say that, at this point, this is a more challenging than the situation at Maryland. It just is for a number of reasons. It is very complex to go through all the paperwork and contracts to try and determine if there is a way and an opportunity to improve our revenue. That's where we are and what we're doing. There doesn't seem to be another way.

    You can say we just need to win more and we will sell more tickets. Well, we do need to win more, there is no question about that, and it will be a part of the solution, but it will never solve the overall issue. The overall issue has to be solved through additional ticket sales, additional student fees, better multimedia rights deals, better revenue share for parking, licensing revenue, apparel sales... those kinds of things.

    What is the latest on the apparel contract negotiations? Have we received competitive bids from the major players?
    I can't tell you anything about that because we are in the middle of it. It's a matter of not losing our leverage because they would like to know what the other entities have offered too.

    It's challenging in part because we haven't been a successful athletics program. I just said we finished 10th and 10th. These companies are businesses and they are trying to determine our true value to them strictly from a business perspective, which is making money.

    Is the NC State athletics property a viable property for them and the answer for that is only if we are going to make a lot of money for them.

    Is there a deadline in place to finalize a deal?
    No, in fact if we took bids and didn't like the bids we could wait another year. We don't have to be forced into a position.

    We don't currently have an all-sports deal. We have some deals with Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. There is no sense in picking someone for an all-sports deal unless we believe it is worth it, and they have to put the right money on the table.

    Chris Kingston is on point for that.

    What is behind the Athletic Department attempts to move the Wolfpack Club under their control?
    That hasn't happened but there are three operating agreements already in date. They pre-date me as far back as 1988. I'm not aware of any changes that would be anything other than just meeting what those documents say.

    Our ability to maximize our revenue means that we have to work very closely together. The athletic program says to the Wolfpack Club, "these are the transfers we need. If we get these transfers we can keep things moving because they raise facility dollars and scholarship dollars."

    If the question is related to moving the Wolfpack Club within the same building as us, that is their decision. We're going to renovate this building one day. There are four stories of glass in the back... it's beautiful. The back should be the front of the building given how impressive it is. Our plan is to have a circle drive that you can bring recruits up through, and they can see this massive, four-story structure as opposed to walking them through the front of a one-story building.

    Also, when we do renovate on that side I want to do put in a Walk of Fame to recognize our history, which is something we've never had. Memorabilia from coach Valvano, Everett Case, Kay Yow... it would all be out there.

    Once the renovations are done we'll definitely move marketing and tickets into this building. Now, we would love to have the Wolfpack Club in this building, but that's their choice. If they want to stay in their current building that's fine too, but we're going to have a beautiful structure here.

    Also, a year from now we hope to be running a true athletic Hall of Fame event. We don't have an athletic Hall of Fame here and we should... there is a lot to celebrate. We'll have a place for inductions each year. We'll need a place to do that, and when we do we'll build those offices for marketing and tickets as well.

    You mentioned in your presentation to the NC State Board of Trustees that we needed more revenues.  Where exactly do you plan to spend increased revenues?  What is the most pressing need? Coaching salaries, recruiting budgets, or facility improvements?
    All of the above. There is a never-ending list of changes that need to be made. The administration fee, which is reasonable, doubled this year when it went from 2% to 4%. That cost us another $700,000.

    It's expensive to be a Division I program and to excel. I don't see the point of not excelling. I'm not interested in being 10th, 9th, or 6th.

    Ideally, in every sport in the ACC we would finish first, second, third, or fourth... depending on the strength of a team in a given year. 1-4 is what I look at. If we finish 1-4 in every sport in the ACC we will be kicking butt. We'll be going to the NCAA Tournament every year, advancing every year, and we will be a top 25 program.

    Now, if we're going to be a top 25 program it will be led by men's basketball and football so the resources will always go to them first, in terms of what we pay and the things that really matter in order to be successful.

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