Editor’s note: This story has been updated after it was reported Anderson has taken a sabbatical. It was updated again when Loh’s email was obtained.
While the football team was warming up for its Big Ten home opener against Northwestern, and the Big Ten Network Tailgate show was filming on the practice fields Saturday, news broke Kevin Anderson was out as Maryland’s athletic director.
But, then he wasn’t.
It was reported university president Wallace Loh had fired Anderson, before the school released a brief statement to the contrary. For now he still has his job, but appears to have been placed on administrative leave, which a university spokesperson had confirmed to ESPN before the school’s statement.
Following a few days of uncertainty, it now appears Anderson will take a six-month sabbatical. Testudo Times obtained the email Loh sent to the athletic directors board, as reported by The Washington Post’s Roman Stubbs Monday.
So exactly what’s going on?
Anderson is only nominally Maryland’s athletic director.
Let’s be clear: Anderson won’t perform the duties of the office again. If you take the school’s first statement at face value, it doesn’t rule out leave, just his firing at the moment. The follow-up reasoning doesn’t offer much more in the way of showing faith in Anderson, or his return. Don’t be surprised if Anderson finds a new job before the end of his leave, either. His departure is no longer something speculated; rather, it’s an imminent conclusion.
Anderson hasn’t been seen at the last three football games or in his office since late last month, Stubbs reported Saturday. When The Post asked Anderson for a comment on his status, he just texted a screenshot of the school’s response.
Executive athletic director Damon Evans will officially handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the post. He was spotted greeting coach DJ Durkin in lieu of Anderson after his comments following Maryland’s loss to Northwestern.
Evans, a former wide receiver and finance major at Georgia, joined the Maryland staff in 2014 after having served as the athletic director of his alma mater from 2004-10. Since Anderson added Evans to the staff, he has already taken on the roles of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for the athletic department, with his official bio also listing “leading day-to-day operations” as one of his responsibilities.
How did we get here?
Though some original reports mentioned Anderson seeking the same job at the University of California as a possible reason for his termination, there doesn’t seem to be any singular event that led to Loh deciding to move on.
When Anderson was hired to replace Debbie Yow in 2010, his contract included a clause that annually gave him a five-year extension that renewed every Sept. 30, unless he was fired. The clause was removed from his contract in 2013, gradually leading to an increased lack of job security for Anderson.
It’s still not clear what was the straw that broke the camel’s back, though, Loh and Anderson never seemed to have the best chemistry. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank had stepped in to mediate the situation, and up until last week there was still a possibility Anderson would take a lesser role in the department, according to InsideMDSports’ Jeff Ermann.
Where does that leave us?
Limbo, for now.
Anderson will continue to hold the title until Maryland is ready to officially move on, with Evans handling the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. The parties could officially part ways in six months, at the end of Anderson’s sabbatical, or as soon as a couple weeks from now, but Maryland will have to a find a new athletic director at some point. There will be no search for now, although Gary Williams’ name is already being tossed around as a potential interim replacement. However, Williams is not interested in the post, Stubbs reported.
For all of the Terps’ successes after their transition to the Big Ten, Anderson was not always the most popular. There was the Randy Edsall era, as well as Anderson being responsible for the decision to cut seven non-revenue sports due to to a financial deficit by the athletic department. At the moment, however, most programs seem to be trending up, which makes the timing more puzzling.
We’ll keep tracking this story as more information becomes available.