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Interview With UMD Athletic Director, Dr. Debbie Yow - Part 2

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Today we present part two of Testudo Times' interview with Maryland's Athletic Director, Dr. Debbie Yow. You can check out part one here in case you missed it. Apologies for not having this posted sooner, I've been consumed by shoveling out of the snowpocalypse. We Hope you all enjoy this special feature! And again, our deepest thanks to Dr. Yow for agreeing to sit down with us!

Dave Tucker: Going back with the football, you sat down with coach Friedgen at the end of the year –

Debbie Yow: Two conversations -

DT: Was that conversation any different than what it would have normally been, coming off a season in which Maryland hadn't lost 10 games? Does the win-loss play into it, the record from last season, versus a ten win season? Do you have to weigh different things?

DY: Sure. It’s the difference in trying to have a conversation with somebody at halftime of a game about the game. You’ve only seen half of it, you’ve got to see the whole game. Now you can talk about it in its entirety. My guideline, and I’ve always used this for all 27 teams, is I don’t talk publically, normally, until the season is over. And try to be consistent. I can remember one time I wasn’t consistent and that was last year when men’s basketball lost at Duke, and it was a bad loss.

DT: It might have been a year ago today.

DY: Well, it was the 24th (of January) it was the day my sister died, that’s how I track it. So that’s happening, my sister dies that morning and I’m trying to deal with the funeral and then I’m reading things and I’m reading people talking about job security for Gary and I look at it and go "This is nuts. This is wrong."

This man, we had a winning record at that time, when this was happening. I’ve never seen something like that; a winning record. So I decided at his media availability, as soon as I got home from the funeral and everything, to just go in and put a stake in the ground, and I did. I said he’s here, I want to put an end to these crazy rumors. And whether or not it had anything to do with it or not, the fact of the matter is, hey, we took off. In other words, the focus shifted.

I’m sure if I were him, it would have annoyed me tremendously to think that people would even suggest that there were any job security issues. I just felt out of respect for him I needed to go in. I don’t think he expected me to and he might not have even needed me to do it but I think it was good for the players or Terrapin Nation. Let’s quit talking about this. Hey, they got a job to do, let’s just support them and see what we can get done this year.

DT: Do you have conversations through out the year with the coaches of all the teams? Are those just normal conversations? Do you worry more about sitting down and evaluating with them at the end of the season?

DY: Well out of the 27 sports, there are only two that I supervise directly; football and men’s basketball. There are senior level administrators that work day to day in partnership with the other coaches. So I see the two I work with; I was with Ralph tonight as a matter of fact. Before the game, we entertained the Maryland Chamber of Commerce over in Tyser Suite, Tyser Tower, trying to sell some suites. I see them and talk to them more than I do anybody else. But we have monthly head coaches meetings. I have lunch with them every month, all of them together. And all the assistants that want to show up. It’s usually 60 or 70 people. And we talk about whatever I want to talk about. I have an agenda and they get it ahead of time. Like we’ll have campus police show up at the next coaches meeting on Thursday. They’re going to talk some about crime on campus and statistics and whether or not they’re up or down. And they help us with the bar scene downtown, in terms of just sharing information.  If they think something seems dangerous, as an example.

And there are also hallway conversations. And I go to level one, which has the majority of our coaches on it and I just walk down to level one and walk around, stick my head in the door and say how’s it going? So it’s a little bit of everything; some of its formal, some of it’s not. It’s busy.

DT: I bet it is.  I don’t know how you have time at all to do anything else.

DY: I don’t much.

Check out the conclusion of our interview with Dr. Yow after the jump.


DT: It just seems like you’re here doing a normal job and then you have a basketball game like you do tonight.

DY: I don’t. It’s really a lifestyle. It isn’t a job; it’s kind of a calling if you will. I just love it. And you wouldn’t want to do it, nor could you do it, if you didn’t feel that strongly about it because it pretty much consumes most of the year, one way or the other. We’re going to finish basketball and then we’re going to be in men’s and women’s lacrosse, with a new baseball coach who’s world class. What a can do attitude.

DT: Well, you’ve already seen results with recruiting. I know he wants his focus to be in state recruits and not letting anyone get out of here.

DY: Correct. He’s an amazing guy.

DT: Yeah, I think he’ll really turn that program around

DY: Big year for softball. She’s in her fifth year of her five year deal. I think she’s going to have a great year. It rolls until June, basically the end of May. We want to be playing at the end of May; it means we’re playing in the national championship or the final 4, for men’s lacrosse, on the 31st, on Labor Day.

And then June is the time to rejuvenate. June actually is still budget. We don’t actually close budget until the first week of July. So the competition is done, but now we’re completely consumed with the budget. We’re within five weeks of closing and we’re trying to figure out if we’re going to balance or not. And what we need to do to balance. And that closes on the 6th or 7th of July. And then the next three weeks are just open. I do a teaching session, I’ve been president of the National Association (of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) and I go to Dallas for Division 1-A and teach the 3rd week of July, people who think they want to be ADs. And I ruin about half of them, of course, because I like to tell them the truth. This is what it’s really like. This is what you think it’s going to be. You think you’re going to be traveling with teams and going to the games and having a great time. That’s just a small, small part of the job. Some of us stick it out.

And ACC meetings are in July, ACC football kickoff. But those are still different than the day to day here, so it’s nice.  And then first week of August, all the fall teams report for fall camp. It always meant fall football the day the freshman come in and we have dinner with them and I talk to them and then Ralph talks to them and then they say their goodbyes and then fall camp starts.

DT: it really is nonstop.

DY: It is!

DT: You touched earlier on the new TV contracts for the ACC. How do you see the new one stacking up with what the deals the SEC and some of the other conferences have recently received and are you happy with the last deal the ACC received? A lot of Maryland football games we’re on ESPN 360 and that seemed to annoy a lot of fans.

DY: Games on ESPN 360 have nothing to do with the contract. That has to do with choices. There is a pecking order for choosing, so we’d go ABC gets first pick, then ESPN, then ESPN 2, then our syndicated package, which is run by Raycom, and then ESPN360. You run through this and they get choices, that’s part of anybody’s contract, and then there is a pecking order for who chooses first, second, third, forth and fifth. The fact of the matter is, if you want be chosen first, second or third, you’ve got to win and that’s how you get on. It’s that simple. So we’ve had years when we’ve had awesome TV exposure and there are years when we went to the Gator Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl. And we’ll be back.

DT: I’m sure we will. There have been two major papers recently that talked about Maryland jumping conferences from the ACC to the Big East, do you see that as something that could ever happen, since the University was one of the founding members of the conference? Based on the fact that the ACC seems to be very North Carolina focused with everything, especially with the ACC tournament and now the football championship game in Charlotte this year, would the Big East be something Maryland would consider?

DY: No. But I could be prejudice, having been raised in North Carolina and grown up in the ACC footprint. And my brother played football for Clemson and my sister coached at NC State. And my Mom loved Lefty, which is very unusual in North Carolina. She just had an affection for him that was ridiculous. And so whenever Maryland played on TV, and back then there weren’t too many TV games, but whenever they played, boy, it was produced by something called C.D. Chesley productions use to do the ACC broadcast. That was it. Maryland or nothing. You had to shut up if you were going to watch it with her. And my only regret, and the Baltimore Sun is getting ready to do some article I think it’s coming up, and one of the things they asked me was about Maryland and was there any tie-ins to Maryland before I got here and I was telling them about her and I took the job in August of 1994 and unfortunately she died ten months earlier of a second bout with stomach cancer. And it’s the only thing I regret, she would have been so excited, I just can’t even imagine what it would have been like for her. And I would have been able to introduce her to Lefty.

But I think we’re ACC through and through. As you pointed out, spring of 1953 we’re at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. We’re a founding member. There is something really special about that. So I can’t imagine being somewhere else, in another conference.

DT: That’s always the impression I’ve gotten. I know there can be some frustrations. Coach Williams talks all the time about how we don’t have any members in the ACC writers association.

DY: Each paper decides whether or not they’re going to join. I think they made some changes. I use to be kind of aware of the changes because we’ve talked to them about not charging, so that our local papers could be in there. But we’ve actually become such a bigger program then just that, that there is  national recognition to be had for our teams whenever we have great seasons. So I don’t worry about it now as much as I use to. You know, ESPN kind of takes care of a lot of this and ABC.

DT: The whole TV thing is just another aspect of of how things have changed.

DY: And there is going to be another wave, and that’s Comcast buying NBC.  That’s huge. That’ll probably take 18 months to settle everything but they’re idea evidently is to compete against ESPN.

DT: Wow, I hadn’t heard that.

DY: Well, in the sports world, and they can, because they’ll have the distribution capability.

DT: I never made that connection. NBC covers Notre Dame in football?

DY: Right now. Right now. Yup. So it will probably be changing.

That concludes our interview with Dr. Yow. I'm sure you'll find a lot of interesting information in there and as we said in the first part of the interview, we hope to be able to sit down with Dr. Yow on a semi-quarterly basis and continue these into the future. We'd again like to thank Dr. Yow for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us and answer our questions. We hope you've enjoyed this special feature.