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Maryland coach Brenda Frese runs one of the NCAA's most successful basketball programs, with a national crown in the trophy case and an Elite Eight appearance this season. She is hard-working, proud and, at times, quite loud. She appears to define the word independent. But if you ask Frese, there's no way she would have climbed the heights she has reached without help. A lot of help. Brenda Frese has all the backing she needs at Maryland."At every stage, I've had support not only professionally but personally," says Frese, whose Terps went 31-5 this season. "When you have that on both fronts, it is just a phenomenal feeling and really allows you to be successful in what you do."
Frese's career defines what can go right for female college coaches, and their employers, with the proper level of support. First and foremost for Frese, her bosses at Maryland have been there for her in times of need. They stayed committed to her in 2008, when she was pregnant with twin boys and couldn't travel with the team for much of the season. And the athletic department was there again in 2010, after one of her sons, Tyler, was diagnosed with leukemia.
But the business end is equally important to success. In August, Anderson signed Frese to a multiyear contract extension, a deal that kept her base salary at a reported $775,000 a year. "I had two years left on my contract, and there was a new AD coming in who didn't hire me," Frese says. "Then Kevin re-signed me to an additional six years. That gives you a lot of confidence."
For Anderson, whose previous career stops included Stanford, Cal and Army, it was a no-brainer. "I've worked with Bill Walsh, Tyrone Willingham, Tara VanDerveer, Marianne Stanley, and Brenda's one of the best," he says. "How she prepares for recruiting, her choices in assistant coaches -- unbelievable."
Anderson has established a coaches council, which meets with him monthly, and it has become a forum not just to air issues over things like facilities and budgets, but also to exchange notes. "Getting Brenda in front of her colleagues and giving her the opportunity to share what she does, and then hear some of the things [men's basketball coach] Mark Turgeon does, is very helpful," Anderson says.