In his new job as coordinator of athletics, Williams faces some familiar problems

Sports Beat

Howard County schools

Q&a

March 16, 2005

Mike Williams, recently appointed the new coordinator of athletics for Howard County, answers The Sun's questions. Williams is the former athletic director and boys lacrosse coach at Glenelg.

Q: As the new coordinator of athletics, are there any issues you think need immediate attention?

A: From the feedback I'm getting, the out-of-district eligibility issue needs to be addressed, and the state is getting ready to revisit that. The late return from a regional track meet on a school night [some athletes didn't get home until 2:20 a.m.] also needs to be addressed. The state sent out an apology. Apparently no guidelines were in place and a bunch of things delayed the meet, including a power outage.

Q: Nearby Carroll County now has full-time athletic directors, something Howard's ADs have long wanted. Do you think that could become a reality in the near future?

A: I don't know how close we are. I hope in the near future. It was in an early budget this year before getting cut. Dr. [Sydney] Cousin [superintendent] did give the ADs an extra free period for next year. The Carroll people do more than just AD stuff. They are also facility coordinators taking care of grounds and maintenance and scheduling building usage. If we pay them as administrators, I would recommend that ADs don't coach.

Q: Ever since golf was dropped as part of the county's sports program, golf enthusiasts have lobbied to restore it. Several times it has been deleted from preliminary budgets. Is golf coming back for sure this year, or can it still be deleted?

A: It could still be cut. I have to present a golf report in April. So far it's still in the budget. I'm hoping the report will allow for the reinstatement of golf.

Q: After the county dropped gymnastics, it was sued for Title IX non-compliance and since has upgraded the girls athletic program with perks such as Bermuda grass fields for field hockey, and freshman volleyball. Are there other upgrades in the works?

A: The creation of cheerleading as a varsity sport would be a Title IX upgrade, and the state is moving toward competitive cheerleading. It's in the current county budget but could still be cut.

Q: Your predecessor, Don Disney, was an adamant supporter of safety issues and pushed for athletic trainers at every school. Does every school have a trainer, and will you continue his tradition?

A: Yes, they do. Yes, I will. But it's a big issue because it is hard to find certified trainers.

Q: Are they full-time trainers?

A: They work about 25 hours per week.

Q: Will you be as adamant as Disney was about clearing fields at the first sign of thunder or lightning?

A: Absolutely.

Q: The issue of quality referees is always a hot topic. Do you think there is a problem in any particular sport and is there any way to improve officiating overall?

A: As in all walks of life, there are good refs and bad refs. Finally having lighted fields will alleviate some of the problem in getting quality officials because the games can start later. Good sportsmanship would help improve the officiating because some good officials get tired of the abuse and quit. Sportsmanship will be a priority.

Q: Howard County has now lighted all of its high school stadium fields. Did any problems occur in the fall with crowd control or cost overruns created by the lighted fields?

A: The lighted fields were a huge success. There were no crowd control issues that I saw, partially because the county was pro-active on crowd control and provided enough people for it. Having more paid personnel did increase the cost, and we will have to analyze yearly gate receipts in June to determine a budget direction.

Q: Will you miss not teaching?

A: I will miss the kids, but am looking forward to being involved in education on a bigger scope, and hope to make Howard County's athletic program a model for everyone.

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