COLLEGE PARK — — Incoming University of Maryland president Wallace D. Loh said Wednesday that he expects to play a significant role in selecting the school's next athletic director, even though his appointment is not effective until Nov. 1.
Loh's role might be unofficial -- for example, meeting with the athletic director finalists before Nov. 1 and offering his blessing to the top choice.
"These are the kinds of searches that one has to move very quickly. One can't say, 'Well, we'll wait until the new president arrives,'" Loh said in a question-and-answer session with media members the day after his appointment was announced. "So if they do have finalists before I come, I will certainly want to meet with them and offer my input to the interim president."
Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan of the University System of Maryland said in an interview that it is critical that Loh be involved in the athletic director selection process. In June, a search committee chaired by Linda M. Clement, vice president for student affairs, was formed to find a replacement for Debbie Yow, who took the same position at North Carolina State.
Loh, who will replace the retiring C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr., "doesn't have the official authority [yet], but his view on who is the most appropriate choice from among the pool will undoubtedly be the next athletic director," Kirwan said.
"From the point of view of the incoming athletic director, that person needs to know who his or her boss is going to be, and athletics is -- as [Loh] said -- such a visible part of the university that he's got to have confidence in and chemistry with the person who is going to serve," Kirwan said.
Asked about his philosophy of athletics Wednesday, Loh likened college sports to the "front porch" of a house -- never the most important part of the structure, but a highly visible one.
"What happens on that front porch has a big impact on what happens with the rest of the academic house, and vice versa," Loh said. "I guess what I'm saying is you have to view it as a totality. And given the university's commitment to excellence, it is a commitment, No. 1, to academic excellence, and No. 2, to athletic excellence."
Earlier, Loh ended a campus speech with a fist pump and a "Go Terps!"
Maryland's next athletic director will oversee 27 sports and a roughly $55 million athletics budget, and make decisions on the leadership of football and other programs.
Loh, whose background is in law and psychology, will come to Maryland from the University of Iowa, where he is executive vice president and provost.
"I'm happy he comes from a school that has a good football tradition," said Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, whose job status was reviewed after last season's 2-10 mark.
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