Yesterday, Debbie Yow released NC State’s 5-year strategic plan for athletics. Emblazoned on the front cover is her theme “WOLFPACK UNLIMITED” with a subtitle reading “Refuse To Accept The Status Quo”. This represents everything NC State fans worldwide have come to love about Yow’s brief tenure.
If you have time to read the 29 page strategic plan document, awesome. If not, here is an under-1500 word summary of all that you need to know. If you’re only interested in certain goals, just scroll down to the bolded heading that interests you. Enjoy!
It’s a 29 page document outlining what Debbie Yow envisions for NC State. First and foremost is Yow’s “Core Areas”, which she has established committees to address.
1) Strategic Planning Steering Committee
2) Student-Athlete Academic Performance, Personal Development and Well-Being Committee
3) Competitive Excellence Committee
4) Branding, Marketing, Partnerships and Development Committee
5) Facility Enhancement Committee
6) Financial Stability Committee
7) Compliance Education and Culture
There is a lot of good stuff in there, but we can make special note of both Competitive Excellence and Branding, which both lagged terribly under Fowler, and the Compliance Education and Culture Committee which shows a dedication to ensuring that NC State doesn’t end up like Carolina.
Each athletic program, administrative unit, and student-athlete group had to complete a series of self-evaluations and openly state what their goal statements were. This is important because it’s going to force athletic programs to acknowledge where they have lagged behind and what they plan on doing about it. If they don’t improve, it gives Yow the ability to help them improve (what that means, exactly, is to be seen).
OUR MISSION (Page 5)
NC State’s Athletic Department’s mission is founded in 7 core principles, the first two probably being the most apt given NC State’s concern of results and the ongoing mess “across the hill” which could easily suck-up other institutions:
1) Achieve [national recognition]
3) Cultivate [and environment]
4) Allocate [funds]
6) Generate [funds]
7) Create [branding]
It is calming to see funding turn up several times, especially given the financial state that Maryland was left in shortly after Yow’s departure from their program. While not directly attributed to Yow, many have rumored that she poorly managed the finances of UMd’s program.
GOAL 1: ACHIEVE (Page 7)
Several days ago, NC State was given some outstanding news when it was announced that NC State finished 37th, overall, in last year’s director’s cup. The outstanding performance of our basketball and baseball teams, as well as the 8-win finish for football undoubtedly contributed, as well as the myriad of non-revenue golf, track & field, and swimming achievements. Yow is using the director’s cup as one metric to determine where the program stands nationally. Beginning in 2013, her plan is to be “65th or better”. That number will move up the rankings to “25th or better” by 2017. Other ACC schools in the top 25 this year include Florida State (5th), UNC (8th), Virginia (15th), and Duke (16th).
Furthermore, Yow has established three requirements to ensure we have quality staff: 1) Offer competitive compensation packages to quality coaches, 2) document and track staff superlatives to encourage achievement and 3) organize three department-wide events for all staff to solidify the winning environment.
GOAL 2: GRADUATE (Page 11)
As hard as I am on Tom O’Brien, this is an area where he is already addressing many key strategies for building a successful program. The first sub-goal reads as follows:
Ensure all sports programs are signing student-athletes with superior athletic talent, admirable character, excellent work ethic, and a personal commitment to academic achievement.
(As a side-note… I miss Russell Wilson.)
Much of the rest of Goal 2 is “motherhood and apple pie”, but I did find it interesting that a focus is placed on transitioning students from high school to college. To me, this may be the most important aspect of developing positive student-athletes who, in some instances, are coming out of schools who did not expect academic rigor from their performance. If we can let our recruits know up-front what is expected from them, we shouldn’t have as many problems.
GOAL 3: CULTIVATE (Page 13)
Again, there is a lot of “motherhood and apple pie” involved in following the rules and achieving within the construct of the NCAA and ACC, but this is interesting…
Encourage a culture of compliance that results in the administration, coaches, staff, student-athletes and boosters following the letter and spirit of NCAA and ACC rules and asking questions before acting.
This is due-diligence at it’s finest. It’s not so much of a poke-in-the-eye of UNC as much as it is publicly stating that NC State is doing everything it can to make sure we have learned from the mistakes of other and from our own past. Many of us either remember or can recall the damning judgement coming down on NC State from the Poole Commission stating that NC State hadn’t violated the letter of the rules, but have violated the “spirit” of the rules.
It’s also worth noting that this is where Yow addresses Title IX compliance.
GOAL 4: ALLOCATE (Page 16)
One thing Fowler did well (I didn’t say “correctly”) was balance a budget. He could solicit for funds and avoid spending. When you aren’t using any money, it’s easy to not go into debt. Yow is taking a different approach of developing the budget, track spending, then communicate the need for more funds from donors and from ticket sales.
Ticket sales are particularly interesting because attendance is about so much more than revenue; it’s about branding (which we’ll get into). Take a look at this screen-shot…
A goal isn’t useful unless it’s measurable. Yow has provided NC State with concrete goals on what to work towards. This is useful for her subordinates in understanding how they will be evaluated and useful to the fan base so we can know whether she is “living up to expectations”.
Another aspect of the strategic plan we see already implemented is the use of contracts to bring in further revenue, as evidenced by the recent exclusivity deal signed with Adidas worth $7 million over the next 4 years. Similar to Yow’s benchmarks for director’s cup success, she’s already exceeding expectations.
GOAL 5: RECRUIT (Page 20)
Recruiting isn’t just about student-athletes; it’s about coaches to. In fact, two of the four sub-goals identified are specifically directed at coaches and staff. The last of the four is specifically directed at allowing NC State’s Sports Management majors to work with the athletic department in an effort to (a) give the student population hands-on training for their post-graduate careers and (b) to increase the bonds between the academic university and the athletic department.
This is a genius idea for so many different reasons. As mentioned, it aids current NC State students (not necessarily athletes) and helps the academic and athletic fiefdoms get together in the same room, but it’s also a shameless source of cheap labor. Before anyone poo-poos this idea, consider that NC State on a regular basis hires “research assistants” at a bargain that helps the university accomplish ground-breaking research and benefits students in their studies and finances. Why isn’t the same model being followed with the athletic department? Genius.
GOAL 6: GENERATE (Page 23)
In 2010, Chancellor Woodson stated his core objectives at NC State which included growing the endowment. Debbie Yow is moving in lock-step by establishing endowment goals and plans to expand the Wolfpack Club, the life-blood of our athletic fund-raising effort. Tentatively, Yow wants to grow the Wolfpack Club and Student Wolfpack Club by 10% annually.
GOAL 7: BRANDING (Page 25)
In a state where most yokels recognize themselves as “Tar Heels” and every state-run organization clings stubbornly to the powder-your-ass blue that Carolina dawns, branding is harder than it should be. After all, as we’ve written about extensively here at WolfpackWorld.com, NC State is the university “for the people” in North Carolina… not UNC.
The primary thrust of NC State’s branding strategy is to dominate the media market. Better utilizing things such as radio and advertising can be useful in increasing recognition of what NC State stands for… and not just talking about the quality of mature women in the areas.
The other two significant aspects of branding include improving gameday experience (a long-time complaint of many students and alumni), and increasing ties with former student-athletes. Again, we’ve already made some immediate moves in the right direction as evident through Yow’s response to legends Corchiani and Gugliotta being ejected from the RBC Center.
For those who made it through the article, I’ll keep it brief: NC State is heading towards a bright future with competent leadership at the helm. What Debbie Yow excels in is understanding the business of running a department, having the capability to increase NC State’s athletic success, and understanding our tradition and history. I actually don’t believe Yow is concerned with the demands of rabid fans per se, but I do think she sees fans as a valuable asset for raising funds and achieving the goals that she needs. It’s a “I need you – you need me” relationship which is a healthy one.
If nothing else, this document is a line in the sand establishing what is and is not acceptable for NC State. I’m looking forward to the future and what it holds for the next generation of State fans.