I spoke with Yow on the phone for about 15 minutes. She called me from the Murphy Center while waiting to address the football team. She was friendly, authoritative and candid.
She’s clearly passionate, and I believe she cares.
I asked her if I could paraphrase all of her comments and she said that was fine.
Here’s how she responded, paraphrased:
She explicitly stated that in no way had she meant to “diss” conceal carry permit holders; that’s not at all what this is about. She “strongly supports” the Second Amendment, her husband is a permit holder, and she is a recreational shooter.
She didn’t offer a “big answer” originally, but she knows the policy is unpopular among fans. She clarified that it’s “not unimportant by any means” and the discussion is ongoing. However, she does not operate alone. On matters of safety, the “subject matter experts” (local and campus police) are always involved in the discussion. They have very real conversations about this policy, and the Boston bombings and the new handgun laws have been part of the discussion. Safety is a real concern, and she defers to the experts on these matters. And the experts decided the current policy should be maintained. She doesn’t push back on matters of safety.
I asked if there were any incidents that caused additional concern and she said there is a safety debrief after every game where they discuss fights, alcohol incidents, etc., and ways to improve safety. She feels it’s important to “protect where we are” in regards to the policies; particularly, alcohol (she called tighter alcohol restrictions “impossible”).
I asked her to comment on the less-stringent policies among our ACC peers, and she said that offline, most of the others wish they could tighten restrictions further, but it’s such a political topic, and in many places the policy is simply a habit that is too difficult to change.
She ended by saying the “door isn’t closed” and then she proudly commented on how excited she is about the Reynolds renovation, and how important our traditions and heritage are to her.
AD Yow contacted SFN within minutes of this posting and said she’s willing to clarify her comments. Pretty cool. To be fair, we didn’t really offer her that chance in the original posting. Agree or disagree, she’s clearly aware and in charge. We’ll print her response soon.
I’ve had conversations on campus about that, and given the explosion in Boston, no one thinks that… do our fans know that the state of North Carolina, the legislature is considering allowing concealed weapons on university campuses? They are. The vote hasn’t occurred yet, but if you had a concealed permit you would be able to bring the gun into the parking lots, legally.
Obviously between the situation in Boston and the state of North Carolina considering allowing concealed weapons on university premises, no one believes this is the time to make any changes or relax tailgating hours.
I’m very concerned about this concept of being able to bring a loaded gun [on campus]. You wouldn’t be able to bring it in the stadium but you would be able to bring it to your tailgate.
Unfortunately people drink before, during, and after games… it’s not a good combination.
This was the response by N.C. State AD Debbie Yow in a Q & A on Pack Pride to the question: “When will the five-hour tailgating rule end?” (A Scout.com account is required to view the transcript).
The SFN author group has discussed this via email and reached the following consensus: Yow’s response was…not good, and we’re challenging her to clarify her rationale.
We appreciate that game day security is an utmost concern, but where is the correlation between the Boston terrorist attack and the tailgating policy? She even broke away from this quickly, as if she realized she couldn’t support the logic.
And don’t mistake this for a pro/anti- concealed handgun law on campuses, because it’s not. None of us disagree that mixing guns and alcohol at a tailgate is quite concerning. On the contrary. But consider this, only 0.003% of all concealed carry permits issued since 1995 have eventually been revoked (source: NCDOJ), which strongly suggests that concealed handgun permit owners are overwhelmingly law-abiding (it is unlawful to carry while drinking alcohol or intoxicated). In other words, concealed handgun permit holders aren’t bringing their guns to tailgates where they’ll be drinking alcohol. So is this really a legitimate concern?
Clearly this topic has remained quite political across changing administrations since the tragic 2004 fairgrounds murder and the knee-jerk response that created — and then maintained — this current tailgating policy. The shooting proved to be an isolated incident where it appeared that neither the drug-dealing thug nor his victim were there for the game. What the policy effectively did get right was to limit access to the fairgrounds lots to only those with parking passes.
Otherwise, when it comes to the game day experience, our administration continues its path of being a solution in search of a problem where none exists.
Just for reference, less than a year ago, in September 2012, Yow said the following about how our policy compares to our ACC peers (GoPack.com):
My understanding is that there is a university task force that made the original recommendation several years ago to begin tailgating four hours before each game. Later, they added another hour so that now fans can arrive five hours before each game. The task force includes members from campus police, the Wolfpack Club staff, athletics, and student affairs. We hope the group can be reconvened this winter to review the policy.
Policies for the opening of parking lots across ACC schools vary greatly. Here are a few examples: Miami opens four hours prior to kickoff, Maryland opens six hours prior to kickoff, Virginia opens somewhere between three and five hours prior to kickoff depending on the specific lot, Boston College opens at 6 am for kickoffs of 1 pm or earlier and 8 am for kickoffs later than 1 pm, Clemson opens at 6 am each game day, Florida State lots open five hours prior to kickoff, Georgia Tech lots open at 7 am on game day, Wake Forest lots open six hours prior to kickoff for games beginning at 3:30 or over. For evening games, those lots open eight hours prior to kickoff. Syracuse opens lots four hours prior to kickoff and Pitt opens lots five hours prior to kickoff. UNC opens reserved lots at 7 am on game day.
This research was done by our Associate AD for facilities.
Our policy appears inconsistent with much of the ACC. So, the question here: what are we doing differently than our peers with less-stringent policies that causes so much concern?
It’s just one more example of a detached athletic department taking for granted its greatest asset: the fans. Tailgating is one of the few things we actually excel at, yet this administration continues to frustrate its donors by viewing the tailgating culture with contempt, rather than promote the opportunity it offers (although the cynical among us believe that this policy will quickly change as soon as there is a plan to generate revenue off extended tailgating hours).
Over the years, many of us have donated (relatively speaking) significant amounts of our disposable income, with very little on-field, tangible ROI. Improving the game day “experience” is a very simple way to say “thank you.”
The question about the tailgating policy isn’t going away. We don’t necessarily have the answer, but our problem with Yow’s response is that it lacks merit, and we’re asking for clarity.