Yow v. Williams proves to be a quarrel with no end in sight

Former AD and coach had short hiatus between barbs until feud escalated Tuesday

April 06, 2011|By Kevin Cowherd

Debbie Yow and Gary Williams are like that couple that called it quits years ago, but whenever you run into them, you still get the sense they'd like to stab each other in the eyeballs.

Wow, is this a feud for the ages or what?

Yow, of course, is the former Maryland athletic director who used to get along with Williams, the current Terps basketball coach, the way the Bloods get along with the Crips.

But when Yow took over as the AD at North Carolina State last year, you thought maybe that was the end of the sniping between the two.

Of course, by now we know it wasn't. Because at a news conference Tuesday to announce the hiring of the Wolfpack's new basketball coach, Mark Gottfried, Yow decided to take another shot at Williams

What set her off was a question about whether she had a national reputation for being difficult to work with.

Even though her voice remained calm — I just watched the video again — you had the sense that Yow blew a gasket inside.

"I don't have a reputation across all of men's basketball of being difficult to work with," she answered. "I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on. We all know that, OK? So, whatever. It's not a reputation. It's Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever."

Don't let those two "whatevers" fool you, either. Yow was steaming.

Of course, sitting next to her during all this was poor Gottfried, probably wondering what fresh hell he had just wandered into.

("Hey, Mark, welcome to the Atlantic Coast Conference! Listen, don't mind Debbie here going off about her old coach! Those two crazy kids still have some anger issues to work out!")

OK, I'm not going to pretend to know if there's anything behind Yow's accusations that Williams mucked up the N.C. State search.

And I have no idea if Gary Williams was being honest in the statement he released Tuesday night that said: "I haven't talked to anyone — coach or athletic director — connected to the N.C. State search. I don't have any interest in the N.C. State search, since I'm coaching at Maryland and working hard to run our program. Anyone who says I've had contact with a prospective coach or athletic director regarding this search isn't being truthful."

But no matter who you believe in this whole mess, Yow sure picked a weird time to go after Williams.

And it was strange to hear a woman who's normally so careful with her public utterances using the loaded word "sabotage" to describe what happened to State's search for a new coach.

What's Gottfried supposed to think when he hears that?

What's he supposed to think on his first day on the job when his new AD essentially tells the media: "Yeah, our whole search was botched. Oh, you have no idea. So we had to settle for this big lug on my right."

On the other hand, Gottfried had to know he wasn't State's first choice to be the basketball coach.

In fact, from all indications, he was pretty far down the list. Heck, I think I was higher on State's "get" list than Gottfried, not that I'd ever leave this cushy job for a million-dollar salary and all those perks.

But the coaches who reportedly did turn down the job include Shaka Smart, the new whiz-kid who took Virginia Commonwealth to the Final Four, Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State and Sean Miller of Arizona.

So now Gottfried, 47, who coached Alabama between 1998 and 2008 and was a college basketball TV analyst after that, steps into the job. And the first thing he probably wanted to do after that news conference Tuesday is stop somewhere for a drink.

Now it'll be interesting to see where the story goes from here.

I'm even wondering if the NCAA will be investigating the whole thing. Because that's a pretty serious allegation Yow has leveled at Gary Williams.

Basically, she has questioned his integrity. And accused him of tampering with N.C. State's basketball program. I wouldn't be surprised if he's getting lawyered-up even as we speak.

I tried to get in touch with him Wednesday to get his side of the story. But apparently he wasn't returning phone calls. And the flacks in the Maryland athletic department said he wouldn't be talking about the matter.

I can't say that I blame him.

This is the kind of publicity that neither school needs.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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