When it became apparent that Debbie Yow was going to take the AD job at NC State, I figured it would be a good idea to get some perspective on Yow from people who know her better than we do. So I reached out to the guys at Testudo Times to get a Terp's take. TT's Dave Tucker shares his opinion below. My thanks to Dave for taking the time; if you'd like to see how Terps fans are reacting to the news, Testudo Times is a good place to start.
The Maryland fan base seems to be split on Debbie Yow's performance at Maryland. On one hand, there is no doubting the positive impact she's had since arriving in 1994:
- She helped the school eliminate a $50 million debt that she inherited
- She's been instrumental in the school expanding and maintaining 27 sports teams
- 20 National Championships have been won under her watch
- She was instrumental in updating the school's sports facilities, including building the Comcast Center, renovating Byrd stadium, and building new softball and lacrosse fields.
- She hired Woman's basketball coach Brenda Frese, which turned around the woman's program and won a national title in 2006
- She hired Ralph Friedgen in 2001, who quickly won an ACC title in football and while last year struggled, has been an overall successful hire.
On the other hand, opponents of Yow will argue that she gives too much emphasis to non-revenue and woman's sports. Those folks would argue that rather than having a few extra non-revenue sports, the football and basketball programs should be allowed to spend the money used to fund those team in order to better their programs. Or they'd question why the woman's basketball assistants were making more than the men's a few seasons ago (the reason behind that, I'm told, is that the woman's staff had been in place longer and the men's staff were more recently hired and unproven at the time. Plus the state had a freeze on all salary increases, which helped contribute to the problem).
There have also been reports that Yow has scuffled with head basketball coach Gary Williams and with head football coach Ralph Friedgen. I think the disagreements between Yow and Williams and Friedgen might be a little overblown, but I also don't think Yow's relationship with each coach is peachy, although Yow did recently nominate Gary Williams for the basketball hall of fame, for what it's worth. No one is sure where Yow's relationship with each coach currently stands, but the general consensus seems to be neither will be inviting the other over for thanksgiving dinner anytime soon.
Regardless of where you come down in regards to Yow, if she were to leave Maryland, the athletic department at the university is certainly in better shape then when she arrived in 1994 and she's had a very positive impact in her time as the AD here. The real debate among fans seems to be in how you measure success; do you want just your basketball and football team to be successful and not care about the non-revenue teams or do you want to try to balance successful revenue sports with non-revenue success. NC State fans can probably expect more of the latter, but I'd say that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you have successful non-revenue sports, it means you're experiencing success with your revenue sports. You just have to find a happy balance that allows both to be successful.
Overall, you're getting a proven AD who knows the ACC very well, who grew up in North Carolina, and who's familiar specifically with NC State because of the ties she had there with her sister, Kay.
Dave also had a chance to sit down and interview Yow earlier this year. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. What I found particularly interesting was that Yow actually reached out to Testudo Times to set something up. (Dave also told me they had another interview set up for next week.) I'm very impressed that she's not only willing to acknowledge a blog but welcome it with open arms. Whatever your thoughts about Yow at this point, it's clear that she's bringing a refreshing approach to the internet to NC State. She gets the changing media landscape, understands the distinctions between blogs and message boards, doesn't dismissively lump them all together. That's a major point in her favor, as far as I'm concerned.