SBJ/June 10-16, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Kevin Anderson, Maryland AD; NACDA president

As athletic directors attend their annual conference this week, their leader discusses realignment, his reading list and how Kevin Plank’s example helped determine the course of Maryland athletics.



N

o one should ever walk into my office
and be surprised at any kind of conversation if I’m doing my job right and communicating and leading.

One trait I carried from West Point [where he was athletic director from 2004-10] was to walk amongst the troops. You’ve got to talk to them because if you do that, they’ll know that you care. They’ll share with you, and you’ll never be surprised.

This definitely is a business where if you’re not passionate about what you do, the student athletes see it, the coaches see it and it can make your job very difficult.

Photo by: GREG FIUME
I need self-motivators. We’re resource-challenged. But I don’t want anybody hiding behind that, saying, “We don’t have the resources to do it.” If we interview, and that’s something they would say, I’m not the person to work for.

Winning is paramount. If you don’t win, you don’t have people coming to the game, you don’t have people buying tickets, you don’t have people making donations, and it makes it difficult to be able to provide everything that we need as a program.

I’ve never seen a program have four or five quarterbacks go out in one season ever. If there’s ever a year like last year with injuries and everything else, I don’t know if I’d be able to make it through again.

As I age, I deal with losses better. When I was younger, I had to find a place that was isolated and dark so that no one would hear me yelling. In my youth, I was a very poor loser. Very poor loser.

The thought of being an athletic director never became a reality until much later in my life. This was a calling for me. I view it as being a ministry — that I’m able to touch these young people in ways that I was touched or wasn’t touched.

I’ve been part of Stanford-Cal, the Big Game. I’ve been to the Iron Bowl. But it’s nothing like Army-Navy, where it’s just breathtaking to see the Cadets and the Midshipmen march in. You really have to be part of it to really understand it.

What happened with the ACC
and all the schools signing their multimedia rights to the conference, it puts an end to realignment for at least until all these contracts run out.

Everything changed a couple of years ago when they added some Big East teams to the ACC. It’s not the ACC that a lot of folks around here know.

I believe that student athletes should be compensated, but I believe it should be need-based. And I think that we’re going to get to a resolution where we’re going to find a way that we compensate the athletes fairly and justly.

There is a value in the scholarship. My biggest concern is that we sell ourselves short when we really don’t advocate talking about the value of the scholarship.

When faced with the decision to cut sports, the one thing that I talked to [University of Maryland president] Dr. [Wallace] Loh about, that I knew was vital, was that we had to give them every opportunity to help them raise money to save their sports.

Besides experiencing death in my family, that was the hardest thing to go and look into those young people’s eyes and say, “We can’t support your team anymore because we just don’t have the resources, and we can’t afford to do it.”

Early in my career, I missed a lot. I’ve got four beautiful children, one from a previous marriage who is a football coach in California right now, and I missed a lot with him. I told myself I wouldn’t do it with the other three. I’ve been better. If you blink, they’re out of the house.

I like to cook. If I don’t make it in this job, I might be able to find a job working at McDonald’s or being a short-order cook.

Helen Williams wrote a book, and I’m halfway through it. It’s called “Coach Like a Mother.” This helps me with some of my conversations I have with coaches.

I like spiritual books. Joel Osteen is someone who I’ve read several books from. Now, I’m reading his book “I Declare.” It sets my mind right and at ease.

Kevin Plank’s been engaging since day one. He’s encouraged me to reach out and work with Under Armour. One of the first things we talked about was the football uniforms.

Part of the Big Ten decision was what Kevin Plank’s done with his company. They’re global. You have to think global. If you don’t think global, you’re not going to be competitive. One of the things that the Big Ten Network gives us is that we’re global now, where we weren’t before.

If you tweet it, if you put it on Facebook, it’s out there and there’s no turning back. We talk to our student athletes about being responsible and thinking about what you do and how you do it. Then you’ve got to pray and hope that they listen to you and think before they do it.

The athletic director that really has influenced me and helped me tremendously is [former Cal athletic director] John Kasser. … John is the most positive person that I have ever met.

If they call me, I return the call. If they email me, I return the email, because there are people that did that for me. If I can provide something for them, that’s why I’m here.


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