RALEIGH — Boo Corrigan became NC State’s new athletic director on May 1. It was an occasion that might have gone completely unnoticed had it not been for the heartfelt farewell message his predecessor Debbie Yow posted on social media a day earlier.
The transition was so seamless that the most stressful moment Corrigan has faced since taking over came two weekends ago was when he was asked to pinch hit for his father and namesake, former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan Sr., at his induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
“I’m just trying not to screw up his legacy,” the younger Corrigan said. “That’s all I’m doing.”
He was joking, of course.
The 52-year-old is already respected as an effective sports administrator after a successful tenure at Army. At the same time, he’s taking a similar approach to Yow’s legacy at State as he is with that of his dad.
Unlike Yow, whose mantra upon taking the State job in 2010 was “refuse to accept the status quo,” Corrigan’s task with the Wolfpack is doing what he can to ensure that things continue running as smoothly as they are now.
That doesn’t mean the job is going to be easy.
“It’s been like drinking from a fire hose,” the new AD said of his whirlwind first two weeks on the job. “But there are so many great people here — the coaches, the administrators, Chancellor (Randy) Woodson and a fanbase that is so dedicated to NC State. Just walking around campus and seeing all the red and the pride people have in that it makes you proud to be part of it.”
There’s plenty for which to be proud these days.
In addition to stable situations in football and both men’s and women’s basketball, the Wolfpack boasts national contenders in several Olympic sports, including wrestling and swimming. Currently, its baseball team is ranked 17th at 39-14, its women’s tennis team is in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, and its men’s golf team is playing in an NCAA regional in Palo Alto, Calif.
Because of that success, Corrigan has spent most of his time on campus getting to know his staff and surroundings rather than contemplating any major changes that need to be instituted.
“God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” he said. “You kind of do more listening than anything else, trying to understand what the environment is and what the whole thing is about. Everyone is willing to give me what they have. That’s the most important thing.”
Of those whose advice Corrigan has sought since his hiring was announced on Jan. 30, no one has been more helpful than Yow.
“You’d be silly in this process not to” tap into her experience and knowledge, Corrigan said.
At the same time, he tried his best to stay out her way during the final few weeks before their transition so that his predecessor could have the stage to herself for a well-deserved victory lap.
“She had such a great career, what I really wanted was to her to be able to enjoy her last couple of weeks instead of worrying about anything else,” Corrigan said. “I wanted her to be able to take a bow on the way out.”
As appreciative as Corrigan is of the job Yow did at State and as focused as he is on continuing her success, he said he plans to be his own man when it comes to his leadership style.
It’s a philosophy he said he learned from his Hall of Fame father, who in addition to running the ACC for a decade from 1987-97 served as athletic director at Washington & Lee, Virginia and Notre Dame.
“He had such a great career in everything he accomplished,” Corrigan said of his dad. “Part of what made him special is that he never took himself too seriously. He had big jobs, but he never took them too seriously. That’s something all seven (of his children) have learned from. All you can do is be who you are and that’s what he taught us all.”