Friday, June 25, 2010

N.C. State's Woodson continues dazzling start

The spectacular start to Randy Woodson’s tenure as chancellor continued Friday when the Wolfpack named Debbie Yow its new athletics director.

Yow, who had been at Maryland, credited Woodson with convincing her to come. And in landing Yow, State lands an experienced athletics director who succeeded at a similar school and brings a legendary name – Yow – back to the West Raleigh campus.

The move, which was kept out of the public eye until Thursday night, gives a fresh jolt of energy to the Wolfpack and continues Woodson’s impressive run.

State needed a change at athletics director, with Wolfpack fans unhappy, and rightfully so, with the overall success of the program under Lee Fowler. The ground was laid for Fowler to leave before Woodson arrived, but Woodson made four critical, and important, moves:

First, he articulated why State needed to move in a new direction, and in particular because the school’s athletes needed to graduate at a higher level. In reading his comments and watching his delivery, you couldn’t help but feel Woodson appeared quite confident in his new role.

Second, he put together a smart committee that was chaired by Smedes York, the former Raleigh mayor who is highly respected in town. That committee included athletics department personnel and showed that Woodson was quick to grasp the lay of the land here.

Third, he kept the search confidential, which is no small success in the Twitter era.

And fourth, he landed an AD who knows the job and has succeeded in it. Maryland athletes also graduated at a higher rate than those at N.C. State. According to the NCAA, incoming freshmen in 2002-03 graduated at a 66 percent rate at Maryland and a 51 percent rate at NCSU.

Yow was clear about her goals on Friday. She said she wants to meet with Wolfpack coaches and find out what they need to be successful. She praised State fans for their support, which is especially impressive in football. And she said she had already met with the football staff and said of Tom O’Brien, “I did say to Tom, You’re my man.’

“I want and need him to be successful,” she said.

The only real disappointment in the announcement of Yow as that the popular head of the Wolfpack Club, Bobby Purcell, was passed over for the position. Purcell would have been a great choice, and has the personality and temperament to succeed in the job.

But in Yow, Woodson found his own person, and an experienced administrator with a strong tie to the school. It’s yet another impressive move by the new chancellor, who has set a goal of tripling the endowment to $1 billion – and needs the fan base energized to do that.

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