Towson names new AD

Hermann sees big things for university's growing sports program


For Mike Hermann, Towson University is the right place at the right time.

For Towson president Robert L. Caret, Hermann is nothing less than the dream candidate.

In a merger of shared ambition, Caret yesterday introduced Hermann as the next director of athletics at Towson, replacing Wayne Edwards, who retires in June.

"I always say when I start a search, you sort of paint a picture of the person you want; [and] he or she walks on water," Caret said. "You're probably not going to find that, so you find the closest thing you can, and Mike did a good job of almost walking on water, I think."

During eight years as athletic director at Niagara University in upstate New York, Hermann did more walking on snow than water. But his stewardship produced six NCAA tournament bids in the past seven years, and an average team grade point average over 3.00 in each of the past seven.

Caret and a Towson search committee whittled down 60-some applications to eight candidates, interviewing four on campus and four off. Hermann emerged as the choice because of his dynamic personality, a strong background in marketing and fundraising, and success at both Niagara and Xavier University.

While Hermann may not have walked on water yesterday, he at least got out of the boat.

"As I like to say in my Rotary speeches, we are going to be that other public university in the state of Maryland that everybody knows about," he told faculty members, university students and search committee members at Towson's Field House.

It is the ambitious goal of both Caret and Hermann to enhance the university's image and create a national profile - and to do it with a significant boost from the athletic program.

High on Hermann's priority list, once he officially begins the job July 1, is the renovation of Towson Center, home of the Tigers men's and women's basketball teams.

Citing planned facility upgrades, Gary Gill, chairman of the board of visitors, said: "The Towson Center Arena is going to get renovated in the next couple of years."

"It's critical," Hermann said of those plans. "It's a nice place for basketball now, but in [the Colonial Athletic Association], as the stakes have gone up, you're going to need a better facility. I'm glad the university is committed to renovating it, and that's going to be an exciting project right out of the gate."

Asked for his input, men's basketball coach Pat Kennedy said the university could "gut the shell [of Towson Center] and create a new shell."

"Ours is like an old phys ed building," said Kennedy, whose 12-16 record this season was the best mark in the past 10 years, during which the Tigers posted an 86-198 record (a .303 winning percentage) under four different coaches.

"We need an arena look, not a gym look."

Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium underwent a $31.5 million renovation four years ago.

Hermann, a native of Akron, Ohio, who broadcast football and basketball games while attending John Carroll University in Cleveland, sees a golden opportunity in the CAA, where the Tigers are five-year members, and the Atlantic 10 Conference, where they begin their third season of football in 2006.

"Our goal is to be at the top of the league," he said. "Because if you're at the top of our league, you're competing for national championships, you're going to the NCAA tournament.

"And if you're at the top of the league from a football standpoint, you're one of the nationally ranked [Division] I-AA teams in the country. So that's our goal."

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