Debbie Yow, athletics director at N.C. State University, finds herself under pressure these days from a multitude of directions. Her dismissal of basketball coach Mark Gottfried brought criticism from other coaches who didn’t like the fact that Yow made the decision now instead of waiting until the season was over — despite the fact that after some high-profile losses many in the Wolfpack world were calling for and expecting his firing.
Yow was right. Gottfried, who has handled his pending exit with class, would only have taken more heat as the end of the season neared, which would have been bad for him and his players.
Yow is also feeling the heat to get a “big name” coach who will raise the Wolfpack’s profile and won-loss percentage, no matter the cost. But she has to stay true to the belief that it’s possible to be successful without surrendering a university’s profile, that by which it is defined, to the athletics program.
Yow has been successful by many measures: the program is financially sound, the graduation percentages of athletes are high, there are no major scandals and many lower-profile teams have been very successful. The program is better thanks to Yow.
The choice of a football or basketball coach at the highest level of competition in collegiate sports is important, make no mistake. In Debbie Yow, the choice is in good hands.