In search for AD, Terps need to go long on loyalty

June 02, 1994|By Bill Tanton

Late next month the University of Maryland will name a new director of athletics.

Let's hope it does a better job choosing one this time than it has for more than a decade.

Already I can hear the supporters of Andy Geiger objecting to that comment.

Geiger is a big-time, big-name AD. But if he was the right man for Maryland, he would still be there.

Even before Geiger's arrival, there was a revolving door on the athletic director's office. It was hard to keep up with the people who came and left -- Carl James, Dick Dull, Lew Perkins.

And in September of 1990, Andy Geiger.

The unfathomable thing was that Geiger would leave a paradisiacal place like Stanford in the first place to come to troubled Maryland.

Geiger came to College Park to battle Maryland's budget problems and the lingering after-effects of Len Bias' drug-induced death.

We now know that Geiger was barely situated at College Park before he started looking for a way out. He applied for three jobs that we know of, maybe more. Finally, this spring he quit to go to Ohio State.

"That's Andy's way," a proud Maryland alumnus and former Terps athlete, Hanlon Murphy, said when Geiger walked. "Look at all the places where he's been -- Brown, Penn, Stanford, Maryland. He only stays four or five years."

Not that Geiger was perfect in the short time he did stay at Maryland.

He made a mess of the football situation, giving coach Joe Krivak a new, five-year contract and then firing him after one year. In Mark Duffner, he hired a successor to Krivak who is long on enthusiasm but short on victories, five of them in two seasons, just two last year.

Geiger brought in a fund raiser from the West Coast, Jeff Gray, who was a flop and left. Geiger, smart as he is, didn't understand this state. No California guy is going to walk right in here and raise a lot of money.

Ohio State thinks it now has the best athletic director in the country and maybe it has. What the profession has today is a bunch of professional ADs who move from school to school and none is more skilled at the art than Geiger.

That's not what Maryland needs now. What the Terps need is someone who is committed to the place, someone with Maryland in his heart, someone who's going to stick around.

Such a man for many years was Jim Kehoe, who ran the athletic program in the Terps' glory days of the '60s and '70s.

That's when Maryland went to seven bowl games in 10 years, the teams of Jerry Claiborne and Lefty Driesell were perennial winners, and even Maryland's non-revenue sports dominated the ACC. And there was never a budget deficit.

"I don't know who they're going to hire," says Kehoe, retired and living on the Chesapeake Bay in Southern Maryland, "but I think Maryland needs someone of proven ability and performance who can bring stability and continuity to the program.

"We need somebody with loyalty to the university. We don't need somebody who's going to use the job as a steppingstone.

"There's no such thing as loyalty any more. When I was at Maryland, if Notre Dame or anybody else had called and asked if I was interested in their job, I would have told them no."

The continual turnover hurts the university in at least two ways. One, it's devastating to fund-raising efforts. Two, it has potential ADs looking askance at Maryland, wondering why everybody leaves.

"I think Maryland's going to go the other way this time," ex-footballer Dick Bielski told me the other day. "Last time they hired a high visibility guy in Andy. I think they'll choose somebody with a low profile this time."

If that's the case, Suzanne Tyler, senior associate AD, could wind up in the job, although some Terrapin Clubbers have told me they wonder whether a woman would get the needed support.

Another in-house possibility would be Gothard Lane, assistant athletic director for varsity sports. Lane, who ran the highly successful NCAA lacrosse Final Four at Byrd Stadium last weekend, came to the school 20 years ago as an assistant football coach under Jerry Claiborne.

"When I came here," says the 47-year old Lane, "we were the Monsters of the Midway. I'd like to see us be that again within the next 10 years."

What does an athletic director do? A lot of people have no idea.

He or she has to raise funds, handle budgets and scheduling, hire coaches, work on things such as compliance, cost containment, gender equity, broadcast contracts. It's no easy job.

Gothard Lane sums it up this way: "The AD is the moral and ethical center of the department. He's the guy who has to tie it all together."

The list of candidates is impressive.

Terry Holland is interested and has a lot to offer. He played and coached basketball and is now the AD at Davidson.

Loyola College AD Joe Boylan, who's "taking a look at the job," is a close, longtime friend of Terps basketball coach Gary Williams.

Williams is the hot commodity. The university doesn't dare hire anyone not to his liking. But if Boylan gets it, hearts will be broken at Loyola, where Joe is cherished.

The names of former Terps athletes Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and Jack Scarbath come up. I don't think any of the three has a chance.

McMillen is viewed as a politician, Elmore as an agent and Scarbath wasn't given the time of day in the last go-round, when Geiger was hired.

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