Maryland picks Randy Eaton to follow former AD Debbie Yow -- on an interim basis

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The University of Maryland chose its athletic department's chief financial officer as interim athletic director Monday, naming 49-year-old Randy Eaton to lead the Terrapins until a permanent replacement for Debbie Yow is appointed.

Eaton, who currently serves as the senior associate athletic director, will not be a member of the search committee charged with finding candidates to fill the athletic director's post, according to U-Md. President C.D. Mote, and Eaton said he will have no role in determining Yow's successor. Sources in the Maryland athletic department said a search committee could be announced as early as Tuesday.

Eaton said he has not had time to consider whether he would like to be a candidate for the top position. He said his highest priority over the next few months would be to maintain the department Yow molded during her 16 years in College Park. On Friday, Yow left to become the athletic director at N.C. State.

"For lack of better terminology, just not to wreck the ship, if you will," Eaton said in a teleconference. "I think we've been left in a very good situation by Debbie. If you look at most [Division I] athletic programs, when an AD of this stature leaves, they've got some pretty big issues, and we're not in that situation."

The athletic department's $55 million budget for the coming fiscal year was already completed in April, according to Eaton. He said he does not foresee any "major decisions on the horizon" that must be made prior to the permanent athletic director's appointment.

One issue that will remain at the forefront this fall is the status of football Coach Ralph Friedgen. Though Friedgen is 66-46 in nine seasons at Maryland, the team went 2-10 last season. Maryland has named offensive coordinator James Franklin the program's "head coach in waiting."

"By the time we get into the middle of the football season, I think all of us anticipate having a new athletic director named and possibly on board," Eaton said.

Eaton, who came to Maryland in 2003, is well-regarded throughout the department for a straightforward-yet-personable approach. He has strong relationships with personnel in both the men's basketball and football programs, according to Maryland officials.

"Randy is not the type to mince words," one of the officials said, "and there's a real respect that comes with that."

Said Mote, who is retiring Aug. 31: "I think he has the confidence of people in athletics and around the campus and around the community, so he seemed like he'd be a logical choice."

In November 1997, Eaton was named interim athletic director at East Tennessee State. He served in that role for six months and was one of six finalists for the permanent position.

Eaton and Mote will hold an all-staff meeting Tuesday, and Eaton said he already had been in touch with many of Maryland's head coaches. Eaton said he will continue to fulfill his duties as the department's CFO with assistance from Jon Palumbo, the associate athletic director for business.

"I feel as the interim athletic director, my role is to take the blame when things go wrong," Eaton said. "And when things go good, everybody else, they get the kudos."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company