Terps AD Anderson vows to build 'cohesion'

Maryland President described Anderson's Army program as 'squeaky clean'

  • New Maryland president Dr. Wallace Loh, left, chats with new athletic director Kevin Anderson, center, and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank before the Maryland-Navy game.
New Maryland president Dr. Wallace Loh, left, chats with new… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
September 07, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — Kevin Anderson was introduced Tuesday as Maryland's athletic director, saying it is his aim "to take the program from good to great" and vowing to build "cohesion" in a department that has had its share of personality conflicts.

Appearing at Comcast Center, Anderson was handed a black baseball cap with "Terps" in red lettering by incoming university president Wallace Loh — the man who selected Anderson from among three finalists.

"Well, today is a new day at the University of Maryland," Anderson, 55, the Army athletic director since 2004, said after placing the cap on his head.

In an interview afterward, Loh described Anderson's Army program as "squeaky clean," an important consideration in an era of repeated recruiting violations and scandals at other athletic programs around the country.

Asked by The Baltimore Sun about Anderson's credentials, Loh cited "the fact that he comes from a squeaky-clean program, and his drive to win. He is the whole package."

Loh said Anderson was enthusiastic enough about the job to accept it before pinning down a salary. Maryland declined to disclose contract terms Tuesday.

Anderson was described by a friend and colleague as charming, competitive and family-friendly.

"He always had an open-door policy. He was very approachable, and he manages people well. He's a go-getter," said Brian Watts, the Army golf coach, who worked with Anderson at West Point and at Oregon State, where Anderson was an administrator working under the athletic director.

"He's a competitor," Watts said. "He can definitely hold his own on the golf course. He doesn't like making bogeys."

Under former athletic director Debbie Yow, Maryland's athletic teams won national championships in men's and women's basketball and other sports and fared well in the Directors' Cup, which ranks schools according to finishes in a broad variety of intercollegiate athletics. She also helped eliminate tens of millions of dollars of the department's operating debt that she inherited.

But Yow's relationship with men's basketball coach Gary Williams was marked by distrust. Her relationship with football coach Ralph Friedgen, whom she hired 10years ago, also soured. Friends of Friedgen and Williams said the coaches felt overmanaged.

One of Anderson's first tasks was to meet with coaches. "He had everyone go around the room and tell him something about themselves," said women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, who enjoyed a good relationship with Yow. Frese, a member of the athletic director search committee, called Anderson "a man of integrity."

Said Anderson: "The coaches are going to be involved with everything we do. This is a team thing."

Yow announced in June that she was leaving Maryland to assume the same position at North Carolina State, where her late sister, Kay, had been the women's basketball coach.

Anderson said his introduction was to have come Monday. But news media outlets learned of his appointment Saturday and disclosed it. Anderson issued a public apology to his Army colleagues Tuesday for not breaking the news to them in person.

Anderson said he hopes to begin his new job Oct. 1.

Anderson also met Tuesday with members of the Terrapin Club, which provides scholarships for athletes.

"When the search started, I sent [the committee] an e-mail and said we needed someone to set a good tone for the department and have it be a good place to work," said longtime Terrapin Club member Barry DesRoches, after chatting with Anderson.

DesRoches said he had hoped for an athletic director who "didn't need the limelight," understood that some coaches are "big personalities" and could raise money.

While he acknowledged that some alumni might have wanted a bigger name than Anderson, DesRoches said he believed Anderson "touches the base on all" his considerations.

The other finalists for the job were Connecticut AD Jeffrey Hathaway and Buffalo AD Warde Manuel, two search committee members said.

Anderson is an Army sergeant's son with a business background. He is Maryland's first African-American AD and said Tuesday that he was motivated by the inflammatory 1987 comments of the late Los Dodgers executive Al Campanis that black people lacked the "necessities" to be baseball executives.

While at Army — where he managed a $25 million athletic budget half the size of Maryland's — Anderson had been chairman of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Issues Committee. He said Tuesday that he favored permitting more contact between coaches and recruits than currently allowed by the NCAA. "To really get to know somebody, you have to spend some time with them," he said.

As Anderson was introduced, his wife, Moira, and the couple's four children sat in the first row of a Comcast Center meeting room that overlooks the basketball court.

Gloria Friedgen, the wife of the football coach, said she presented necklaces and other small gifts to the Anderson kids "because it's always a difficult transition for children. We want to welcome them to the Terps family."


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