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What Kevin Anderson's hiring means for Gary Williams and Ralph Friedgen

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the hiring of Kevin Anderson to replace Debbie Yow as Maryland’s AD:

Gary Williams, Maryland’s men’s basketball coach, called me yesterday and he must have used the word “cohesive” four times during our conversation. He feels Anderson is the type of person who will make the athletic department a more cohesive unit, and Williams said that is very important to him, perhaps the biggest factor in his mind. It is no surprise why. The tension that existed within the athletic department for years between Williams and Yow, and in recent years between football Coach Ralph Friedgen and Yow was real and significant. I have seen my share of athletic department discord in more than a decade covering college sports, but this was the worst I had experienced. As well as Maryland did in athletics, I often wondered what it could accomplish if everyone got along just a tad better and communicated face to face from time to time. At various points in 2009, I wondered if each of the three primary individuals would remain at Maryland. All did. Now Yow is at North Carolina State. In and around College Park, there had been plenty of positive sentiment for Jeff Hathaway, the U-Conn. athletic director who was born in Maryland and graduated from the school. He was the leader heading into the home stretch of the search. Discussions broke down late this past week, and multiple sources said money was not the deal-breaker. In any event, one member of the search committee told me Hathaway and Anderson were the two individuals who impressed the most. Anderson also had impressed Williams, who made the basketball program a national contender again after some turbulence a few years ago. As he heads into the final few years (or more) of his career, this is important to him – a more cohesive work environment. Regardless of who was to blame for the intra-office friction, this is something all Maryland fans should root for, as well.

My other thought is this: Monday’s season-opening game against Navy may be the most important game of Friedgen’s tenure at Maryland. In the heart of the summer, before Maryland appointed its next president, few expected the school to name an athletic director before the football team entered the ACC portion of the schedule, much less before the season began. But the search intensified, the process quickened each week after Wallace D. Loh was introduced as the next president in mid-August. When I had been told that Jeff Hathaway (U-Conn.), Anderson (Army) and Warde Manuel (Buffalo) were entering this past week as the finalists, I admit I was surprised at the speed of the process. Now Anderson arrives and is handed a full plate worth of football-related issues that he will consider in the coming months. Lagging season ticket sales. Four losing seasons in the past six years. And, oh, yeah, that signed coach-in-waiting agreement, as well. It is a complicated situation with more questions than answers right now. Friedgen is a day away from starting what may be a make-or-break 10th season. Yes, it’s only game one. And, yes, a full slate of conference games remains in an ACC that is always topsy-turvy, unpredictable and competitive from top to bottom. But Monday is a tone-setter for the entire season. You can be sure Anderson will be watching closely. And the juxtaposition of the game being decided just 17 hours before Anderson is formally introduced on campus is an interesting one. Win or lose, it would be in Friedgen’s best interest for the Terrapins to be competitive. I think they will be. The team is improved. How much so remains to be seen. There is a lot on the line, both in the short-term and long-term, and everyone knows it, especially Friedgen.

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 5, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Football , Men's basketball  
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Next: Ferrara out; new AD Anderson watching on sideline

Comments

Prisbell,

Since you brought up (and continue to keep bringing up) our new athletic director's skin color, I'm wondering if you are willing to ask the school some tough questions alone these lines.

We know for a fact that at the university of maryland, black applicants are given a massive degree of preference over their white, Hispanic, and Asian counterparts in admissions (there have been studies on this). We know that UMD takes race into heavy consideration in its undergrad admissions, med school, hiring, and faculty promotions. We know that 2 federal courts have struck down racially-reserved scholarships at UMD.

We also know--thanks to some ill-advised comments from Debbie Yow--that our public school took race into consideration (illegally and unconstitutionally) in the promotion of James Franklin to head coach in waiting. From a published report on accsports.com: "Only because Franklin is a 'qualified minority,' according to Yow, did College Park administrators willingly agree to his preemptive promotion. 'It’s part of our fabric,' she said of affirmative hiring, which at Maryland included the ACC’s first black basketball assistant coach and head coach, the first African-American chancellor, and the first and only female AD."

So Prisbell, why don't you ask them a tough question or two at Tuesday's press conference. Be the only reporter with the guts to ask them whether race was yet again a factor in the hiring process of a highly prominent position at the school--and whether that was why two of the finalists were black. Consider that of the pool of eligible applicants for the position, the chances that two of the three finalists would randomly be black are very, very slim (probably less than 1% after adjusting for the % of our population that is black and the percentage of blacks that have a college degree, which is a requirement for an AD position).

Put your politics aside Prisbell--whether you are for or against affirmative action should be irrelevant--and put UMD officials on the spot for once on this issue and see what they say. Maybe they will slip up like Debbie Yow did when she said race was a factor in Franklin's promotion.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 5, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I hope the teams do well this year. Based on what I know of UM culture, they WANT to be a perennial top 10 athletic program, and have competed well in many sports. They will likely not achieve top 10 status in football though as that requires schools to invest a whole lot more than UM does in the program. So Maryland is a perennial 'good' football program, a very good Men's basketball program (as long as Gary is at the helm), and sets its sights more on academics and equality across the sports program. I don't think Mr. Anderson will do much to improve that, at least his background and credentials do not lead us to think that. I just like to beat Duke, and UNC in baskeball and the Tourney, and Florida State, or WVA in football, and a bowl every year. Not too much to ask.

Posted by: bfjam | September 5, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

This absolutely should be a make or break season for Ralph. It is not acceptable to have another losing season (that would make 5 out of the last 7 years). I am an alum, 39 year football season ticket holder, 26 year Terrapin Club member, and 12 year MGN member. I do not want a football coach who has that many losing seasons. Ralph did a great job in those first three years to resurect the program. Fact is the Terps have been mediocre at best since then. This University deserves to have a top 25 program on a consistent basis. It pays the coaches well enough to get there. If the current staff can't be consistently successful, it is time for a change.

I think Mr. Anderson's decision is simple...win and Ralph stays...lose and its time for a change.

I believe and hope that Ralph and the Terps win this season.

Posted by: johnbecka | September 5, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I like the things I'm hearing Prisbell. From an outsiders perspective, I could feel there was a lot of tension and I know Debbie Yow didn't hire Fridge 4 years before he came to town because Vanderlinden was the cheaper choice so I always thought money was a major factor which it always is but I think making the right hire 4 years earlier would have put us in a better position. No reason to dwell on the past.

But I would guess they didn't hire the UConn guy because of the pending allegations against the basketball team. That was one thing Debbie seemed to do well with was keeping our program out of trouble. It doesn't matter if he's not the one committing the violations. It's happening under his command which is never good. It goes to show you Maryland won't hire someone with lineage just because they have that.

I'm anxious to see if these two can get Maryland headed in more of a positive direction than their predecessors. Though they did some good things, there was always the questioning and the tension.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | September 5, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

i like the hire

Posted by: slim4 | September 5, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

i like the hire

Posted by: slim4 | September 5, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Until the school gets over the Len Bias tragedy, it will continue to be what it currently is.

Though as Barno pointed out, the over commitment to diversity is a very troubling trend.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 6, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Eric,
Thanks for the article. Only time will tell on the hire but as a MD fan I hope for the best.

Posted by: fellowfan | September 6, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree with Barno more and join him in urging you to ask the question Eric.

That question aside, how does Anderson's record at a US Military Academy prepare him for the issues he will face at a major state university. Recruiting, behavior, Alumni expectations as well as coaching staffs and economic factors all all very different. Many of us want winning to be much more important at Maryland, especially for men's basketball and football. We need better athletes and coaches. Anderson certainly didn't have to deal with that at West Point.

I am very concerned.

Posted by: petecard | September 7, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Well don't hold your breath on Prisbell or anyone else at the Post asking tough questions about MD's racial preferences. Prisbell has ignored my requests for a long time to ask these tough questions. I can only assume he is a supporter of race-based hiring (which is not only illegal, it is also unconstitutional for a state institution).

In addition to the school and Debbie Yow, our beat reporters appear to either not know anything about Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act nor the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

It would be nice if we had reporters willing to put their own personal political beliefs aside and simply did their job in holding those they are assigned to cover accountable. But they are too busy touting how great it is that we have hired "the first African-American athletic director in Army's history" as if that piece of information is in any way relevant.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 7, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

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