Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow signed a contract extension yesterday to remain at the school through 2013.

Yow is guaranteed $350,000 annually during the deal, which replaces a contract that would have expired Sept. 1, 2010.

“It’s been very casual,” Yow said. “[University president C.D. Mote] and I talked about it in December, maybe November. I’m busy and he’s busy. We went to the bowl game, came back and it picked back up recently. As with most of our conversations, it was a very easy conversation. We have the same goals and values, which makes it a lot easier. It is gratifying.”

The contract keeps in place an athletic director who has overseen national titles in both men’s and women’s basketball this decade, balanced the department’s budget 12 straight years and helped secure the construction of Comcast Center.

When asked whether the new deal all but ensures she will finish her career at Maryland, Yow said, “Absolutely, that is the idea.”

It is the fifth contract extension Yow has received since she arrived in 1994 and the first since November 2004.

Yow is responsible for two significant coaching hires this decade. In 2000, she brought in Ralph Friedgen as football coach, and he has delivered four bowl appearances in six seasons, including a victory in the Champs Sports Bowl last month.

She hired Brenda Frese to take over a struggling women’s basketball program the same week the men’s program won its title in 2002. Frese delivered a matching national championship last spring, and the team has spent all of this season in the top five.

Yow also has overseen off-field growth as well. Maryland produced a school-record 76 percent graduation rate for scholarship athletes who arrived on campus in fall 1999, the most recent class for which data is available. There is also the fiscal responsibility of the balanced budgets, which followed a decade of deficits.

An obvious task for Yow in the coming years is the expansion of Byrd Stadium, which is expected to be completed in time for the 2010 season. But she also has other priorities in the 27-sport department.

“I can tell you what I’m looking for in the next five or six years is seeing the Olympic sports for our men really come into their own because we’ve been able to fully scholarship them for the first time in 30 years,” Yow said.

If Yow completes the contract, she will have spent 19 years at Maryland. Her five immediate predecessors — Carl James, Jim Kehoe (on an interim basis), Dick Dull, Lew Perkins and Andy Geiger — were at Maryland a combined 15 years.

“If leadership isn’t stable, how would you ever hope to get any of your issues [handled]?” Yow said.

“That’s about half the battle — that and sticking through the tough times to enjoy the good times.”

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