- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

Debbie Yow didn't mean for it to sound like a boast, but the Maryland athletic director said with conviction and pride at a news conference yesterday that new women's basketball coach Brenda Oldfield was the top candidate the search committee had interviewed.
Yow added that Oldfield, named Associated Press Coach of the Year after engineering a 14-victory improvement in leading Minnesota to a 22-8 record in her only season at the school, joined a list that included football coach Ralph Friedgen and men's lacrosse coach Dave Cottle among her top choices for their respective jobs.
"There's nothing as satisfying as hiring your number one choice," Yow said.
Well, Yow got her No.1 again. And now, following extremely successful seasons by the Terrapins' football and men's basketball programs, Yow has hired the 31-year-old Oldfield to bring the women's basketball program back to national prominence a status it has not enjoyed for 10 years.
"I'm here for one reason to rejuvenate the program," Oldfield said. "To be able to see that degree of support and commitment from your athletic director your boss so to speak it really was exciting to be able to find a perfect fit like that. She knows where she wants to take this program. I think it is very exciting."
Also exciting is that Maryland continues to build on its successes, the latest coming with the men's basketball team's first national title Monday night. In the last 12 months, the men's team reached two Final Fours, the women's lacrosse team won its seventh consecutive national title, the field hockey team was national runner-up and the football team won the ACC title and played in the Orange Bowl. Women's basketball is next on the agenda.
Maryland stood 20th, as of March 21, in this season's Sears Director's Cup standings, which measures aggregate excellence in all sports. The Terps will jump up when the men's basketball title is factored in.
As the Maryland athletic department continues to flourish, there is every reason to think Yow's decisions are the right ones. Since she came to College Park in 1994, she has guided athletics to unforeseen successes. She was commended for bringing the athletic department out of the $6.8million deficit she inherited when she came from Saint Louis University, and this year will balance the $33million budget for an eighth consecutive time.
"Personally, [athletic success] is more rewarding for me than the budget. Balancing the budget is foundational we have to balance the budget," Yow said. "It is easy to be emotionally involved and excited about hiring the right coaches for the student athletes."
Assistant athletic directors who work under Yow speak of her as an extremely driven and focused individual who does not accept anything less than the best for the university. Decisions occur from a collaborative effort by 10 associate and assistant athletic directors, but Yow remains the ringleader.
"She's very focused she has an unbelievable work ethic," said Rob Mullens, senior associate athletics director. "It rubs off on all of us."
Part of Yow's demanding approach can be traced to her start in college athletics as a women's basketball coach in the 1970s. She still carries many of the principles she employed in leading Kentucky and Florida to successful campaigns and finds them applicable to situations she meets at Maryland.
Yow, named 2000 Female Executive of the Year by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, wants to win, and the only way to win is to hire her No.1 choices. She said she believes hiring a coach is a competition with other schools that are also trying to hire the best available coach.
"A lot of the skills I learned as a head coach are still in play administratively," Yow said. "It's very complex because you're not dealing with one team, you're dealing with 25 the entire program. It's exponentially more complicated. It requires tremendous support staff, which I have in the associate [athletic directors] that's my team, so to speak. I have a great team, and they carry a lot of the burden."
All has not been positive for Yow. This past weekend provided a contrast of emotions.
The jubilation of the basketball team was offset by concerns about the health of her 82-year-old father, Hilton, who slipped into a coma after recently sustaining a blood clot in his brain. Yow had to miss the Terps' East Region final victory against Connecticut to be with him in a Greensboro hospital. She said he has since pulled out of the coma, but she is still concerned and will visit him this weekend.
Yow's brother-in-law, Bill Bowden, died last Wednesday, three days before Maryland's semifinal game against Kansas.
She said she wouldn't recommend to anyone the extreme swing of emotions she felt last weekend. But after formally introducing Oldfield as coach yesterday, she again had that focus in her eyes that has defined her eight years at Maryland.
"All of us are enjoying it, and we should," Yow said. "I want everybody to just revel in it. And let's keep pushing. Let's do more."


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