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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson's goal: 'Finish first in everything we do'

University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson takes over a program that fields 27 sports for nearly 700 athletes on an annual budget of $55 million.
University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson takes over a program that fields 27 sports for nearly 700 athletes on an annual budget of $55 million. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 6, 2010; 1:05 AM

There was a time when a college athletic director's job was largely ceremonial - a golden parachute for a beloved former football coach tasked with glad-handing alumni in exchange for a cushy salary and plush office.

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Today, it's a profession unto itself, demanding an executive who is, at turns, a personnel manager, fundraiser, budget analyst, public-relations expert and ethicist.

As Maryland's first new athletic director in 16 years, Kevin Anderson has been charged with all that. And he takes over at a challenging time, with constricting state budgets forcing public universities nationwide to rein in their spending and scale back their ambitions.

Yet upon being formally introduced as Debbie Yow's replacement in September, Anderson, 55, who came to Maryland after five years as Army's athletic director, pledged that under his watch the Terrapins would compete to win and "finish first in everything we do."

It was an inspirational rallying cry, to be sure. But it leads to two questions:

Is Anderson's vision reconcilable with a broad-based athletics program such as the one at Maryland, which fields 27 sports for nearly 700 athletes on an annual budget of $55 million (down from $58 million in 2009)?

And, as a relative outsider, will Anderson - a California native who compiled his impressive resume exclusively in the Pacific-10 and Patriot League - be effective in energizing the Terrapins fan base?

Yale Athletic Director Tom Beckett, who worked alongside Anderson at Stanford in the early 1990s, has little doubt on either count, characterizing Anderson as "a rising star" in athletic administration.

"He is a tireless worker," Beckett said. "He has the ethics of the finest people you will meet. He's someone who values the idea of developing a team. And his skills as a leader are extraordinary."

Invested in young people

In conversation, Anderson is warm and direct, measured and thoughtful. Unlike many in college sports, he doesn't come across as a salesman. Yet he views college sports as having something to sell: The exceptional talent and commitment of student-athletes, who he believes, if coaches and administrators do their jobs well, will become the country's next leaders.

"We're investing in our young people for tomorrow, for this country," Anderson said. "If the athletic departments are successful, the byproduct is someone who is going to be productive, a good citizen and an active participant in growing our community and leading the country."

At Maryland, Anderson's first order of business is football.


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