N&O features Yow & her novel approach of accountability

It was a good weekend for NC State in the local media. The headline in Saturday’s morning’s News & Observer proclaimed that academic fraud was found at UNC-Chapel Hill (shocker!) and the feature story of Sunday’s sports section was, “Yow’s challenge: Put N.C. State athletic department on top” (Link).

After taking over as athletic director at N.C. State in June 2010, Debbie Yow declared her five-year plan for the program: to become a perennial top 25 school as measured by the Directors’ Cup rankings, which award points for national places in varsity sports.

To achieve that goal, the school would need successful teams across the board – not only the big-ticket sports, football and men’s basketball, but also the Olympic sports, from swimming and wrestling to women’s basketball and soccer.

All of State’s 23 teams would have to step up. OK was not going to be enough; passable would no longer get a pass.

“I think being mediocre is boring,” Yow said in a recent telephone interview. “It’s a disservice to the university as well. It’s a disservice to anybody who contributes to athletics. I don’t think people say, ‘Gee, let me make a gift to Wolfpack athletics, because I think they’re going to be mediocre.’ So I don’t make any apologies for expecting worth and movement toward excellence in each of our sports.”

Any NC State who has given money to support NC State Athletics in the last 20+ years has to really ‘love’ the following admission:

But with the school willing to step up its commitment to all of its teams, Yow expects every coach to take on the challenge of becoming a top national program. (Not as though it would be a surprise to anyone with a pulse.)

Gymnastics coach Mark Stevenson said that level of accountability hasn’t been the norm for Olympic sports at N.C. State.

“I’ve never been in a position where anybody said I was going to win,” Stevenson said. “Usually, it was, ‘We don’t expect you to win, because we’re not supporting you enough.’ ”

Stevenson became a head coach at N.C. State in 1980 – he shared a hiring party with Jim Valvano – and has seen administrations come and go.

“Nobody has stood in front of me like Debbie did and said, ‘I’m going to support you and you’re going to be a top 10 team, or you will find a different job,’ ” Stevenson said. He added that Yow might not have used those exact words, but he got the message.

“There’s that little bit of extra pressure, and I’m OK with that.”

Stevenson thinks that support is already paying dividends. In 2010, the team finished sixth in the NCAA regionals. In 2011, the team moved up to fourth, and this year finished third, coming within two-tenths of a point of advancing to the NCAA finals. Stevenson was named 2012 Southeast Regional Coach of the Year at the tournament in Raleigh.

“We’ve seen an increase in our funding, and just from last year to this year we moved up nine spaces (in national placement). We’re finishing the season 17th in the country. Last year we were 26th.”

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22 Responses to N&O features Yow & her novel approach of accountability

  1. tjfoose1 05/06/2012 at 10:45 AM #

    But, but, but… I don’t understand. In the latter stages of the past administration, those intellectual giants of 99.9, Gold and Ovies, said we couldn’t be a top national athletic program.

    Even when it was pointed out to them that State had exactly that back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, they just dismissed it and went on to spend an entire show laughing and ridiculing any fans who disagreed with them.

  2. Pack78 05/06/2012 at 11:00 AM #

    Both Yow and Woodson show by contrast just how pathetic our athletic AND academic administration has been for the past 20 years…bring it on! Coach Stevenson’s comments about the lowered expectations of Yow’s predecessors are very revealing.

  3. Wulfpack 05/06/2012 at 11:36 AM #

    The main obstacle to reaching the top, Yow said, is money.

    “We’re so far below the average per-student-athlete investment among the ACC publics, it’s ridiculous,” she said. “We’re way down. We’d need another 7 million in funding annually to reach the average.” Yow based her assessment on data provided to the federal government as part of the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) and other financial information analyzed by her department.

  4. GAWolf 05/06/2012 at 11:50 AM #

    There’s exactly one particular alum who could make us a top-10 program with one unnoticed stroke of his pen in his checkbook. I hope to goodness our administration is doing all they can to reach out to him.

    If he’ll give enough money to build a soccer park in Cary and support an entire high school (and therein its athletic department), then he has enough interest to support his alma mater, too. The right pitch just needs to be given, and I’m 100% the current people in positions of power have the competence and vision to figure out what that pitch should be.

    Good night, everyone.

  5. BAM 05/06/2012 at 12:51 PM #

    GAWolf, you are talking about John Tesh right? heh

  6. TLeo 05/06/2012 at 12:51 PM #

    What a novel idea….accountability from coaches and staff and refusal to accept the mediocre! Why didn’t someone think of this before? Oh wait…never mind, lazy idiots were in charge previously. It’s so refreshing to have Woodson and Yow running things.

  7. PackerInRussia 05/06/2012 at 1:37 PM #

    ^^I thought it was John Edwards

  8. blpack 05/06/2012 at 2:08 PM #

    I thought things were bad before and campaigned for change. If we all knew how poorly things were being run in reality, we’d have marched on the athletics building. Thank goodness someone has the vision and gumption to go after success at NCSU with a passion. We will get there.

  9. YogiNC 05/06/2012 at 2:43 PM #

    Fox, when she was chancellor, should have seen the problems at the top and done something about it. Thank goodness we hired Woodson. That particular hire has been the most instrumental so far IMO. He had the vision and found someone who shared it AND had the passion and connection in Debbie Yow. It is indeed exciting times to be a backer of the Pack!

  10. Alpha Wolf 05/06/2012 at 3:58 PM #

    As the world’s most popular sport — by far — it amuses me when a local sportswriter thinks of soccer as an “Olympic sport.” Granted, it isn’t a revenue sports in terms of college sports, but when you have 650 Million people tuned in last week to a regular season fixture between the first and second team in the English Premiere League, it’s hardly a minor sport.

  11. graywolf 05/06/2012 at 5:14 PM #

    Thank you Dr. Woodson and Dr. Yow. Together, in a short time frame, we have already seen more success than we have in the past 20 years. We, as alumni, are blessed to have leadership like yours.

    Thank you!!!

  12. choppack1 05/06/2012 at 5:40 PM #

    My general thought is that you need to get your football and men’s basketball in order. When those sports are good money will follow. If we are mediocre in those 2 sports, none of the other really matter

  13. logarithm 05/06/2012 at 7:44 PM #

    I love it and I’ll give more to the program when I can.

  14. state73 05/06/2012 at 8:36 PM #

    More than the signing of any recruit or hiring of any coach,the two best things in Wolfpack sports in many years are the hiring of Dr. Woodson and Dr. Yow!!

  15. Wufpacker 05/06/2012 at 9:14 PM #

    Had a brief email conversation with another State alum a couple weeks ago. He stated happiness at the recent turnaround of the Pack’s fortunes, but stated concern that when the shine wore off that Gott might not turn out to be as good a hire as he currently appears to be.

    I told him honestly that I agreed that might turn out to be true, but I wasn’t overly concerned about it because if it did turn out that he couldn’t cut it, DY would find someone who could.

    It’s nice to feel that way for a change.

  16. backnine 05/06/2012 at 10:21 PM #

    Regarding the “shine” on Gott, lets remember that when he was hired, there really wasn’t much “shine” on him. Instead, he went out, hired a great staff, hit the recruiting trail hard (and suceeded) and then remade the culture of our team with another coaches recruits, culminating with a sweet-16 run. With that in mind, I’d say whatever “shine” is on coach Gott was built with effort and hard work by he and his staff. Will it continue? I think it will. Last year has only shown Gott and the staff what’s possible here. And he’s now selling that to recruits with a passion.

  17. Wufpacker 05/07/2012 at 2:52 AM #

    I guess I should have been clearer to avoid the impression that I believed Gott was not going to work out long term, or that he or his staff was anything but competent, hard working and passionate. To the contrary, I think we have arguably the best staff in the country right now and that sooner rather than later Gott will prove himself not only competent, but exceptional. I don’t think DY would have hired him if she didn’t think the same thing.

    And that was kinda my point.

  18. tractor57 05/07/2012 at 4:04 AM #

    In my opinion the next big hurdle for the program will be when assistant coaches start leaving for head coaching opportunities. That may be soon or it may be several years down the road but I’ll place my money on sooner rather than later. If Gottfried can continue to bring in quality assistants as the need arises he could well have his destination job (assuming he so desires).

    Upon reflection I think we have a somewhat odd person to thank for all this – Mary (SL)Easley. After all it was when her cozy deal became public knowledge that the wheels were put into motion to bring Chancellor Woodson to us. Then of course Woodson chose DY and DY chose Gottfried. In a perverse way the (SL)Easleys played a part in all this.

  19. Classof89 05/07/2012 at 9:27 AM #

    Goodnight doesn’t seem like the T. Boone Pickens type. (major benefactor of Oklahoma State athletics). I wouldn’t be surprised if Goodnight gives MAJOR bucks to State some day, but I would be surprised if it was in the area of athletics. Ya’ll know they (SAS, that is) gave the naming gift for the gorgeous new physics/statistics building on the old Riddick site, right? If you haven’t been back on campus in the last 3 years, you need to go in this building. It’s very nice.

  20. HPWolf 05/07/2012 at 2:35 PM #

    I think it will be important in the near future to look at the compensation packages of both TOB and Gott. Debbie should make sure they are being paid at a fair level compared to other successful D1 coaches. It would be a major setback to lose one of the two due to a lack of funds just as we are getting back on track.

  21. choppack1 05/07/2012 at 6:59 PM #

    Tractor 57 – excellent point. If I recall, he lost some key assistants right before things fell apart at Alabama.

  22. NCSU84 05/07/2012 at 8:10 PM #

    Dr. Goodnight does more than most, he just does not flaunt it like some. In addition to the new physics bldg., you do realize that just this year there were members of the Technician (school newspaper for those who do not know) who did not have the money to attend and cover the sweet 16 game between NCSU and Kansas. Who filled the void and bought enough ad space in the Technician so that the staff could attend? Yes, it was SAS. I am sure there are countless other donations that we are unaware of or have long forgotten. Dr Goodnight has never wavered in his support of NC State – never forget that. And in case anyone is wondering, no, I do not work for SAS.

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