Kevin Anderson is introduced as Maryland's new athletic director

(Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
(Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) (Photo By Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 7, 2010; 11:08 PM

Conference realignment, escalating costs to remain competitive and an NCAA crackdown on some of its most recognizable programs have made for an unpredictable time of upheaval in college sports.

"A pivotal time," said Kevin Anderson, Maryland's new athletic director.

But in College Park, one issue overshadows all others: intra-office cohesion. Echoing a sentiment expressed by men's basketball coach Gary Williams, Anderson told an overflow crowd of media, coaches, school officials and supporters Tuesday that he will immediately look to build "cohesion in the athletic department."

Perhaps as early as Oct. 1, Anderson, Army's athletic director since 2004, will succeed Debbie Yow, who left after nearly 16 years to take the same position at North Carolina State in June. Terms of Anderson's contract were not disclosed.

In recent years, Williams's strained relationship with Yow occasionally boiled over into public discord. Tension between Yow and football coach Ralph Friedgen grew as struggles on the field mounted. The first specific objective Anderson detailed Tuesday: a plan for a unified team.

"It is necessary to link the entire institution," Anderson said. "I will be committed to building partnerships with everyone within the walls of the institution, as well as going outside and strengthening existing relationships and forming new ones."

Williams, a member of the school's 17-person search committee, said Saturday he supported Anderson because he felt Anderson could make the department more cohesive.

Women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, another member of the search committee, said Anderson was impressive because of the "energy you felt and how he presented himself - 'It's not about me, it's about we' - and just being an extension of a team that is working together."

With a black Terps hat covering his silver hair, Anderson charmed the crowd for 22 minutes with intermittent humor, as he articulated his big-picture vision for leading a 27-sport department with a $55 million budget. The light touch belied his management style.

The son of a World War II Army sergeant, Anderson is a self-described straight-shooter who promised "you will quickly learn my leadership style. I am demanding, but I am fair."

Anderson met with coaches Tuesday and plans regular meetings with them about recruiting, budgets and other issues. Williams, Friedgen and Frese were in attendance Tuesday to hear Anderson speak of high expectations - "My vision is to go from good to great" - and his blunt communication style.

"You'll always know what the score and the time is," Anderson said of his approach with coaches. "There is not going to be any surprises. We're going to be very clear."

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