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Williams’ departure shuffles the deck again on campus
On the dais Friday at Comcast Center sat a campus president hired in August, an athletic director chosen the next month and a basketball coach departing nearly 22 years after returning to Maryland.
It was an end of an era, but not simply in the sense it was a celebration of Gary Williams‘ career as he stepped into retirement. It also was a reminder of how the power structure of Maryland’s athletic department remained unchanged for nearly a decade and has undergone a radical facelift in less than a year.
Williams‘ departure merely was the latest change in College Park, where efforts are ongoing to find a replacement for a coach who became an institution. Athletic director Kevin Anderson’s search initially centered on Arizona’s Sean Miller before Miller agreed to a contract extension late Saturday.
Whoever Anderson settles on will be the latest addition to a department where the issuing of name tags might not be a bad idea.
“I’m working with a new football coach, a new basketball coach, a new athletic director,” veteran broadcaster Johnny Holliday said Friday before Williams‘ retirement news conference before deadpanning, “Maybe it’s time. I don’t know. Are they trying to tell me something?”
Not quite. But after 12 wild months, Holliday is one of the few icons familiar to supporters of the school still in their longtime position.
c Campus president C.D. Mote Jr., in office since 1998, announced his retirement in February 2010. Wallace D. Loh, the former provost at Iowa, was introduced as his replacement in August.
c With the presidential search ongoing, athletic director Debbie Yow left in June to become athletic director at N.C. State after a nearly 16-year stint at Maryland. Her replacement was Anderson, who was Army’s athletic director and became Loh’s first major hire.
c The first monumental decision on Anderson’s part was to fire football coach Ralph Friedgen just weeks after Friedgen was named the ACC’s coach of the year. The move was instigated when James Franklin, the Terps’ offensive coordinator head coach in waiting, left for Vanderbilt and deprived the program of at least a nominal succession plan.
Friedgen was ousted after a 10-year run at his alma mater. Anderson hired Randy Edsall, who was coming off a Big East title at Connecticut, as Friedgen’s replacement Jan. 2.
Other significant jobs turned over as well. On the academic side, provost Nariman Farvardin announced his departure earlier this year. Athletically, lacrosse coach Dave Cottle was fired a little less than a year ago after nine seasons; Harvard’s John Tillman took over perhaps the school’s most well-known spring sports program.
No change is more visible than the retirement of Williams, who in many ways became the fiery face of a school as much as a program.
“Anyone who comes in is going to have big shoes to fill,” said longtime Maryland director of basketball operations Troy Wainwright, who begins his new job as executive director of the school’s M Club on Monday. “It presents great opportunity. I think Kevin embraces that and has a vision. I think all of our coaches, whether they’re new or been here a few years, are buying into it. I think change is good. Not always, but in this particular instance, it’s great.”
Ultimately, the department’s direction remains to be seen. Anderson was scrutinized first for firing Friedgen, then for hiring Edsall rather than former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Until Edsall coaches a game - and it won’t be until a Labor Day meeting with Miami - it will be difficult to develop a read on the success of that selection.
Then there’s the basketball search, which generated significant attention in the three days since Williams formally retired.
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About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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