Terps fans are lucky to have Yow on their side

May 06, 2003|by MARK KELLER

I've always followed the University of Maryland for two reasons: I've lived in Maryland my entire life and I'd have to answer to my mother if I didn't follow the Terps.

My mother is a certified Terrapin fanatic, at least as far as the men's basketball team is concerned. She watches football, too, but not with the same passion she has for hoops.

It's well known in our family that you don't bother mom while the Terps are on TV. Catch her before or after, maybe try to squeeze in a conversation during halftime ... but while the game is going, forget it.


Her heart is in College Park.

The good news for mom, and for all Maryland fans, is there's another woman who bleeds Terrapin red (so to speak), and she has some pull within the athletic program.

Her name is Debbie Yow.

Yow has been the athletic director at Maryland for nine years and has overseen tremendous victories at a school that, not so very long ago, was scraping the bottom in major college athletics.

When Yow arrived on campus, the football program was mired in mediocrity and the men's basketball team - with Williams in place as head coach - was just emerging from the NCAA sanctions that resulted from the Bob Wade era.

Yow made an immediate difference, balancing the department budgets while retaining successful coaches (like Williams) and dumping those who weren't measuring up (Mark Duffner and Ron Vanderlinden).

She called the hiring of Friedgen to replace Vanderlinden "a watershed moment," both for her and the university. Friedgen has proven his worth, with his knowledge on the sidelines and his overall enthusiasm.

While much has been made in recent years about the impact of coaches returning to their alma maters - including the Terrapins' two highest-profile coaches, Gary Williams and Ralph Friedgen - Yow thinks that impact is overrated.

And then, she proves that it's overrated.

Yow is not a University of Maryland graduate. But the dedication she has shown to the university in her nine years as athletic director would be difficult for any one person to outdo - even the most zealous of Maryland fans.

Yow does say she loves the passion that Williams and Friedgen display and the success that they have brought to the school they once attended. She is particularly fond of Friedgen's rendition of the school's victory song.

She quickly points out, though, that Mike Krzyzewski didn't graduate from Duke.

Does anyone question his allegiance to the Blue Devils?

So, we'll call Yow a Terrapin by marriage rather than a blood Terrapin.

Or how about the Maryland athletic director-in-law?

Either way, for Maryland fans, it's good to know that Yow is part of the family.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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