Welcome to Baltimore, Debbie Yow

August 20, 1994

The University of Maryland has hired Deborah Yow as athletic director. That's pretty rare. There are only four women in charge of sports programs at the top 106 colleges in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's I-A division.

Ms. Yow was already an athletic director when she was lured to College Park. She had that job at St. Louis University. UM is a lot bigger, but she has experience at big campuses, too. She coached basketball at the universities of Kentucky and Florida, and she was assistant director of a sports fund-raising organization at the latter school.

Ms. Yow doesn't have a hard act to follow. Maryland's athletic program remains in a slump. Its major revenue-producing teams -- football and basketball -- are not nearly as competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference as they used to be, either on the field or in ticket sales.

The department spends more than it earns and has a $6.7 million debt. No doubt Ms. Yow's skills at raising money caught Maryland's attention. She knows that winning teams attract money, in ticket sales and in alumni and business support.

A big problem for UM remains its isolation -- and aloofness -- from the Baltimore area. There should be annual football games and several basketball games a season here. There is a fan base in Baltimore. There should also be more outreach to the area's College Park graduates. And to businesses that would like to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements with the school. And to area politicians who serve in Annapolis and whose goodwill is crucial to state institutions.

The College Park school is thought of by many as principally a school for Prince George's and Montgomery counties. (The universities of Florida and Kentucky are not thought of as belonging to part of their states.) Ms. Yow needs to overcome this for UM's athletic programs to thrive.

Big time college athletics have their critics who say win-at-any-cost coaches exploit players and water down academics. It doesn't have to be that way. Many universities have maintained high academic standards and produced championships. Ms. Yow lists her goals as winning more games, eliminating the deficit, and maintaining high graduation rates. We wish her well in all three. We look forward to seeing the Terps in town, as do local fans, old grads in the area and the business and political communities.

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