Elon alumna and trustee Deborah Yow '74 wins top national honors

The North Carolina State University Director of Athletics has been named the winner of this year's James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor in college athletics administration.

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced that Elon alumna and trustee Deborah Yow '74, who serves as North Carolina State University Director of Athletics, has been selected as the recipient of the 53rd James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor one can achieve in collegiate athletics administration. She will be honored at the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon sponsored by Under Armour on Tuesday, June 11, in conjunction with the 2019 NACDA & Affiliates Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Florida. She will also be recognized as a 2018-19 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year for the first time in her career.

"During her time as a coach and an administrator, Debbie has positively impacted tens of thousands of student-athletes, and everyone involved in NACDA is fortunate she chose that administrative path," said Bob Vecchione, NACDA chief executive officer. "Debbie was an annual speaker at the D1-A/LEAD1 Institute and always willing to participate in sessions or workshops at NACDA meetings. Nearly 20 years ago while serving as NACDA President, Debbie orchestrated the creation of the Association's mission statement, which reiterates our core value of education. As an English major, she has always exhibited that educational mentality throughout her entire career."

The Corbett Award is presented annually to the collegiate administrator who "through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment." Corbett, athletics director at Louisiana State University, was NACDA's first president in 1965. Additionally, Yow will receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute (SMI), an educational institute sponsored by NACDA and the universities of Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Southern California and Texas, and automatic induction into the NACDA Hall of Fame.

"The Corbett Award, for lifetime achievement, represents the pinnacle of recognition for those of us whose careers have been in the enterprise of intercollegiate athletics," said Yow. "For that reason, it is a special type of honor that I consider somewhat overwhelming, especially because it is awarded by our peers. I have such high regard for those individuals who have previously received it, and I am honored to be counted among them as a recipient."

Yow knows the importance of her position, leading the athletics department of the largest university in North Carolina. The first female athletics director in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Yow also knows NC State's reputation as a pioneering program that first established basketball as a dominant sport in the South, was the first to integrate varsity athletics in the ACC and was the first public school in the state to dedicate full resources to women's athletics.

A native of Gibsonville, N.C., Yow has been deeply connected to NC State since her youth. Her older sister, Kay, became the first full-time women's coach in the state of North Carolina, when she was hired to coach NC State's first three women's sports: basketball, volleyball and softball.

As her career in intercollegiate athletics began, Yow served as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, Oral Roberts University and the University of Florida before switching paths to become an administrator, at both Florida and UNC Greensboro. In 1990, she reached the AD chair for the first time when she was named athletics director at Saint Louis University.

Yow served as NACDA President in 2000-01 while at the University of Maryland, where she was director of athletics from 1994-2010. Under her leadership, Maryland's 27 varsity programs won a remarkable 20 National Championships and consistently graduated student-athletes, including an all-time high federal graduation rate of 80 percent.

When she was hired to be NC State's director of athletics on June 25, 2010, her goal was to make the department she inherited one of the best in the nation. Over the last nine years, Yow has taken many steps to accomplish that goal by recalibrating competitive and academic expectations. She has ensured that financial resources for teams have improved dramatically and that coaches are encouraged to recruit the best prospects available — in both character and competitive achievement.

A member of the National Football Foundation (NFF) Board of Directors, Yow has previously served as President of the Division 1A Athletic Directors' Association (now LEAD1 Association), and was a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Academic Enhancement Committee, in addition to representing the ACC on the NCAA Management Council.

Both Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education have cited Yow as being one of the 20 most influential people in college athletics. She was selected to serve on the President's U.S. Department of Education Commission on Opportunities in Athletics to review the status of Federal Title IX regulations. Like her older sister, Yow has been inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Yow has written numerous articles and books on athletics management and human behavior. She holds a bachelor's degree from Elon University and a master's degree from Liberty University, and has been awarded honorary doctorates for professional achievement from Elon, Liberty and the United States Sports Academy. She is married to Dr. William W. Bowden.

Yow will officially retire as NC State's athletics director on April 30.