Kevin Anderson officially stepped down as Maryland athletic director Friday evening after completing a six-month sabbatical. The school will begin a national search for his replacement beginning next week.
The move was expected in the wake of Anderson’s leave of absence, which was announced Oct. 16, and marked the beginning of the end of his seven-year tenure in College Park. Damon Evans has been leading the athletic department as interim athletic director and is expected to be a candidate to permanently replace Anderson, according to a university spokesperson.
Whoever takes over will inherit an athletic department that has had a turbulent year. Anderson announced his sabbatical after weeks of absence that went unexplained by the university and led to reports that he already had been fired.
Maryland had an operating budget of $94.8 million in the 2017 fiscal year and generated just more than $80 million in revenue, plus an additional $14.5 million gained from student fees and direct institutional subsidies, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. It received just more than $37 million in revenue from the Big Ten Conference over that year.
As Evans took over, he heard plenty of concerns regarding the football program, which is a key revenue generator in the Big Ten but has not bolstered Maryland’s attendance numbers in the sport. Maryland football ranked third to last in the 14-team league in attendance this past season. The athletic department is also facing a formidable challenge in fundraising for the Cole Field House project, which made Maryland the last school in the Big Ten to have an indoor football facility. The price tag for the facility was raised by 25 percent to $196 million last summer, with the athletic department responsible for paying $19 million of that increase.
The men’s basketball program, which has long been the centerpiece of the athletic department, missed the postseason altogether for the first time since the 2013-14 season after finishing 19-13. Home attendance dipped from 16,628 to 14,676 fans, and large swaths of the fan base called for Coach Mark Turgeon’s job on social media and message boards. The school also was pulled into the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball after former player Diamond Stone was alleged to have received illegal payments from an agent; the school is conducting a review of the program and the allegations surrounding Stone.
Those circumstance raise the stakes for Maryland’s search to replace Anderson, though the school has yet to announce a search firm to aid in interviewing candidates.
Anderson, in a letter the university said was shared with its athletic department Friday, wrote that “though I am leaving my position as director of athletics, I will continue to follow my passion for developing and bettering the welfare of young men and women.”
Anderson took over for Debbie Yow in 2010 after serving six years as athletic director at Army. In seven years he made three coaching hires within revenue-generating programs and oversaw the school’s transition to the Big Ten starting in 2012, which helped bring more revenue to an athletic department that has long been plagued by financial struggles and was forced to drop seven varsity sports in 2012 to counteract a multimillion-dollar deficit.
A polarizing figure in College Park, Anderson immediately caused a stir when he fired football coach Ralph Friedgen in December 2010, replacing him two weeks later with Randy Edsall.
Anderson fired Edsall in October 2015 and replaced him with DJ Durkin. Anderson’s other major coaching hire, Turgeon, came after longtime coach Gary Williams retired in 2011.
Anderson could not be reached for comment Friday. When asked if a search firm had been selected in the wake of Anderson’s departure , a university spokesperson said, “Updates on the search will be provided in the weeks ahead.”
Jesse Dougherty contributed to this report.
More from The Post: