Part II: Q&A With Debbie Yow

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 three-part interview with the Wolfpack's AD!

Pack Pride was recently able 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 that included questions submitted by our premium subscribers.

In Part II of our interview she gives her thoughts on Notre Dame, electronic ticketing, joining the SEC, and much more.

Where does the athletics department stand in terms of debt?
The athletic program is carrying a very large debt. I inherited the debt and we'll work through it. $51.9 million as of January 18 which was the last update that I have and the Wolfpack Club is carrying $17.4.

So we're paying very large amounts of money annually through our revenue sources to pay facility debt. That wouldn't be a problem if we didn't need part of that money for operations, but we do, which is why it was important for us to get a new multi-media contract, a new apparel contract and more student fees. All of those things have taken place, but we're just on the front side of that.

We're about halfway there. We need another three to three-and-a-half million dollars to feel like we're in the range of providing the average per student-athlete expense among the eight publics. I never looked at the privates because it would skew the number upwards because of their cost for scholarships.

When will electronic ticketing be available?
We're going to electronic ticketing and we're going to it this year. Last I heard is it was a go. All I wanted to know was how expensive it was. I heard the numbers, took a gulp and said go. We should be doing it for football and for men's basketball. You should be able to get both the hard copy tickets and the option of being able to electronically reassign those tickets to someone else.

The number one strength of this is if you thought you had a babysitter and suddenly you don't and it's an hour before the game, you can email your tickets to a friend. They print it out and get it scanned. You can't scan more than once; it's a unique barcode. If someone shows up with duplicate tickets it won't go through.

How are players informed on social media?
We work through media relations and occasionally have a special speaker. The coaches are constantly talking with them. Students know more about social media than we do. They're educating us!

The basic concern is don't tweet everything you feel because how you feel is going to change. Now hundreds and thousands of people have seen how sorry you felt after practice. It's just common sense.

When do you see expansion of Carter-Finley Stadium happening?
We need a waiting list. We don't have one. We're still not able to sell all of our tickets. We sold out 95% of our ticket inventory last year but a number of those seats were reduced price seats or special packages. We worked at selling those. We're not going to build something we don't have a demand for. It will have to be a sustained demand.

What are your thoughts on joining the SEC?
I was born in North Carolina, raised in ACC territory. If you were asking me personally, my proclivity would be to stay in the ACC. I'm not the final decision maker; I would be one person at the table. I think it's a counterproductive thought process. The thought process that is productive is working as hard as we can, as a single member of the ACC, with ideas and modes of operation that will best protect the ACC in upcoming years.

Do you think Adidas will produce unique jerseys?
They will sell anything that will make money.

Is there going to be a light rail system running from campus to the stadium?
I have not been asking about or am thinking about the light rail system.

What are your thoughts on Notre Dame potentially joining the ACC?
If Notre Dame were going to become officially affiliated, in part or in whole, I would want it to be the ACC instead of the Big 12 or the Big 10. Obviously the ideal would be full membership, but in the year 2012, I don't think the idea of closing off some other type of affiliation would be wise, so I would be open for it.

Is there going to be an effort to play more schools on the west coast? It could help develop NC State's brand.
We played at Stanford last year in men's basketball. Women's soccer is going to Texas. They have their budgets and they can use their travel budgets as they deem appropriate. It's really a coach's decision.

Do you require your coaches to use only university phones?
We don't require it - I've never heard a requirement that you have to use a particular phone. Not sure that's legal in the United States under the Constitution. However, our compliance office does monitor all usage.

What have you learned from your time at Maryland? What do you think of the financial crisis they are in?
Instead of me giving an opinion, we can look at their own report on their financial situation, which they issued in November of 2011. They said it's important to have reserves, which were collected over the years and that I think they said three different times that the reserves have been appropriately utilized to balance the budget.

I was there 16 years, we paid all our bills with the money that we raised. I can't address anything that happened after I've been gone. There were some expensive changes in coaches. It's expensive to change a football staff. It's expensive to change a basketball staff.

I don't think it's appropriate for me as an AD at another school to be making proclamations about the propriety of what's happening at another school. My focus is to try to elevate our own program. They make their choices and we make ours.

Do you have a target dollar figure for the operating reserve?
I don't have a target. The general concept is, if possible, to add to the operating reserve every year. But we're not going to decide to be mediocre or very bad in a sport so that we can have a reserve. It's illogical. You want to do both and doing both is really challenging if you're paying 5.4 million per year in facility debt. That's a huge number for our program but that's where we are.

I'm always going to lean towards taking care of the programs first. We're here for the student-athletes and the coaches. I'm not here to pat myself on the back about the huge reserve I have although the reserve at my prior employment was very important at a certain juncture.

Coaches and student-athletes expect us to assure that they travel safely and they travel well. One of the paying points this year was being able to afford to send the baseball team down to Florida on a charter. I delighted in doing that. It was $19,000. It wasn't budgeted but we decided we thought we could still balance the budget - we weren't sure where we were because we hadn't received final numbers from the ACC. So we sent them down. But coming back, the charter cost us $37,000 so they came back commercially. I still feel badly about that today! That is not the way it should be. You should not be a baseball team going to the Super Regionals and not being able to travel by charter.

That's my focus: taking care of the student-athletes' needs. We just hired two full-time sports medicine staff. We went from eight to 10. We have 10 that are full-time, eight that are part-time. We want to continue to ramp up the full time staff. Why is that? Safety! Appropriate care!

It's expensive to do what we do and do it well. Whether you're talking about how many people work in the compliance office and what is their level of expertise, because the greater the expertise the more expensive they are, or the trainers or the strength and conditioning coaches. We hired Bob Alejo a year ago to head up the new strength and conditioning staff. All of these are very expensive and they're not part of the increases I mentioned earlier in the football and men's basketball budgets.

We don't count those ‘against' the budget of anybody - those are centrally located administrative units to serve all 23 teams. This is all very expensive.

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