May 24, 2008

Things are Getting Ugly in College Park...

That's all you need to know. A website exists for the sole purpose of getting Debbie Yow removed as Athletic Director for the University of Maryland, College Park.

I've been a long-time supporter of Debbie Yow, and she's managed to lead the Maryland Athletic Department through some unparalleled times of prosperity, but let's run through some of my concerns about her performance:

1) Stand by Your Man - First and most obviously, not standing by Gary Williams in the media over the Tyree Evans debacle. GW maybe or maybe not should've never recruited Evans. Nonetheless, he did. There's no reason why Debbie Yow had to come out and say that she was unaware of some of Evans' past indiscretions, thus throwing Gary squarely under all four wheels of the bus and thus making it patently clear that there are tremendous strains and cracks in that relationship. United front Debbie. You ever hear of it? Important leadership concept.

blahblahblah Yow embraces womens' basketball coach Brenda Frese

2) Separation of Sports and State - Letting personal friendships get in the way of sound business decisions. It's clear that Debbie and Ralph Friedgen are very, very close. As Randy Jackson would say (and you though Idol recaps were over), a billion trillion times closer than she is with Gary. Some are unclear as to the reasons. Others speculate that it has something to do with both of their very close ties to the church. I'm not even going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole. All that matters to me is that she decides to sink millions of dollars into upgrading Byrd with luxury boxes and new seats after consecutive losing seasons. Think that money could've gone elsewhere in the athletic department? I do.

3) Let Them Drink Pepsi - Stupid decisions regarding football skyboxes. You know those beautiful new skyboxes that are being built? You know that maybe a quarter of them have been sold? You know why? NO FUCKING BOOZE IN THEM. You run a company. Maryland comes to you and asks you if you are willing to drop tens of thousands of dollars to own a skybox for the season. You think it would be a great opportunity to build client relationships and entertain. And then you have to tell people that sorry... you better fill up on your beer in the parking lot. I've got Pepsi and water and that's it in my skybox. Are you KIDDING ME? Debbie, wake up. You're surrounded by Verizon Center, Nationals Park, and FedEx Field, all of whom have boxes way nicer than the ones at Byrd and all of them that serve alcohol. I get that Maryland is a "dry campus" (try walking the halls of any dorm on a weekend and proving that). Nonetheless, you could've gone to bat for the skyboxes more than you did. Instead, your ill-made business decision in the first place is now going to hemmorrhage money. Good job.
blahblahblah The planned additions to Chevy Chase Field at Byrd Stadium

4) Loosen Up, Debbie Baby - Sucking life out of the student fans. Do you even listen to the students? Do you even watch games at Comcast Center that aren't coached by Brenda Frese? For one, the scan and leave concept has been popularized by frat guys, Gemstone nerds, and others who want to guarantee that they build up loyalty points to qualify for the Duke game (for those unfamiliar, the current policy is that you get a "loyalty point" for having your ID scanned at a basketball game and your priority for Duke tickets is based on loyalty points). So students come at tip, have their ID's scanned, and turn around, and walk right out. For some early non-conference games, student posters on the Terrapin Times message boards describe flocks of students walking down the hill away from Comcast at 7:05 immediately after tip of a 7pm game. Very simple solution. Scan once on arrival, scan again on departure, and only begin scanning departure tickets ten minutes into the second half. Guess what? People will stay. It's not brain surgery. It's an idea that I'm about the 5,000th person to propose. Nothing implemented. Seas of empty seats in the student section for all non-Duke games practically. Say what you will about this as a descriptor of the state of the Maryland basketball program. Nonetheless, it's an easy solution to a blatantly messed up problem.

5) Hell Damn Fart - Sucking life out of student fans (part deux): No more Rock and Roll Part II. Yeah, because kids these days aren't exposed to the words "suck" and "hell" anywhere in pop culture. Come on, leave YOUR puritanical values at the door. And it's not even poor sportsmanship. The opposing fans and players laugh it off. It's the one thing that binds the student (and alumni) sections together. And it's gone. All because Debbie kowtowed to the screaming minority who wanted it gone because it's an obscene and unsportsmanlike cheer. Hey Debbie... da-da-da-dada-dada-da HEY... YOU SUCK!
blahblahblah Shaking newspapers is not allowed at Comcast Center

6) No Joy in Shipley - Maryland baseball. I know this one came out of leftfield (no pun intended). Go to Shipley Field someday. Tell me it's not the poorest excuse for a stadium in a major athletic conference there is (except for maybe Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke). You're in a power baseball conference in an area that has a lot of homegrown talent. You've got two pro baseball teams and you've got a sport that could draw fans out for the same reason minor league ball draws fans out. And you basically turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the legions screaming that Terry Rupp continues to be the worst manager of a baseball team since Cal Ripken, Sr. (limited to April 1988) and a horrible recruiter. Word has come down that a new baseball stadium is in the works. Don't get excited, it's not because Debbie Yow wants it so. It's because the campus wants the Shipley space for a new academic building.

Bottom line is that as a 2002 alum and Terrapin Club member since then, I think Debbie Yow is in a Martin O'Malley circa 2006 situation. Some good things are happening to the athletic department (Baltimore), and Debbie would like to take credit for them, but upon careful inspection, she really can't take credit for any of those things. In reality, the majority of the athletic department (Baltimore) is in a downhill spiral and critical questions should really be asked whether Debbie Yow continues to be the right person for the job.

I'm not yet signing the petition on but I understand.
Related Links:
--Tracking the Terps (Many authors, Baltimore Sun)
--Something is very broken in College Park (Nathan Fowler, AOL Fanhouse)
--Tyree... we hardly knew ye (Greg Kanner, Turtle Soup)

14 Responses:

Russell said...

A couple words in defense of Terry Rupp, the baseball coach. Don't know if you've heard but this year is only the second time in school history that we've won 30 games. It's also the first winning season since 2002, and I counted 10 losses by 1 run in conference play. This may not sound like much, but the baseball program didn't offer ANY full scholarships when I was there. It's hard to compete with the rest of the ACC when you can't offer full scholarships. Maybe Debbie Yow could have spent some of those skybox dollars on baseball scholarships. Rupp is not the first good coach of the Maryland program who will probably be fired because he can't lure good talent with half scholarships.

PS. Swinson, a MD pitcher, was national player of the week after throwing a no-hitter in the Terps' last game.

Russell said...

Also, think how hard it must be to get high school athletes excited about playing at Shipley in front of 10 people. Games elsewhere in the ACC feel like the minors, not like Babe Ruth league like Shipley.

Brien said...

Seriously, Jeremy? You're about the most negative Terps fan I've ever heard, and that's a pretty tough title to earn.

I don't have time to go through all your previous posts, but this one stands out.

You've admitted to booing the team, you've called for Gary's head and now you're backing a movement to get rid of Debbie Yow. That's 2/3 of the triumvirate that has led Maryland athletics to historic heights.

I think both Gary and Debbie have made some questionable decisions lately, but they're both still near the top of their professions. There are very few basketball coaches I'd rather have than Gary and very few athletic directors I'd rather have than Debbie. I disagree with each of them quite often, but they do their jobs with integrity and a clear love for the school. Add to that the fact that they've been very successful and I think they deserve to stay for a long time.

And nice job cherry picking the few bad stories about Maryland athletics. Way to leave off the fact that non-revenue sports other than baseball have either become powerhouses (field hockey) or are rattling off some of their best seasons ever (wrestling).

You can bitch about the skyboxes at Byrd, but I think you've been one of the people that has complained the most about how shitty Byrd is.

If you hate so much of the athletic department (not to mention so much of the basketball team), maybe it's time you step back and consider whether you're still a Terps fan.

J-Red said...

At first glance, I read Brien's comment as: "but they do their jobs with integrity and a clear love for alcohol."

I don't think any of these things are any different than the ups and downs experienced by any other schools. If the balance book is in good shape, and simple winning and losing corrects nearly every other complaint, then I don't see any reason to off Debbie.

The athletics department's biggest problem is that College Park is a total shithole. If it weren't for in-state tuition, I doubt I would have wanted to spend four years in a town that looks a lot like Beirut circa 1983.

Russell said...

Having lived in CP for the first 23 years of my life, I don't think it's a total shithole. At least not all of it. And town-gown relations suck. But I don't think any of that is preventing people from wanting to come to MD games. The school's location should be a boon to the AD, because it's the only major sports university in the area (except G'Town in basketball). The DC/Baltimore area is full of MD graduates wanting to attend games, unlike many locations like VT where you either live there or have a really long drive. Maryland should have the best football, baseball, lacrosse, soccer,... programs within 100 miles, and in many cases we do. In the cases we don't (lacrosse, basketball come to mind), we need to work at getting back where we once were.

J-Red said...

I meant the town is preventing athletes from coming. College Park offers nothing that neighboring schools can't offer more of.

Russell said...

You're probably right about that.

Jeremy said...

Time for a little defense and clarification although I didn't think it would be required.

a) Not backing a movement to unseat Yow. In fact, I believe I said clearly at the very end that I'm not signing that petition yet, but I understand why it's out there. The gist of my post is that certain things have happened in the athletic department that I am very unhappy about. I'm never a fan of poor leadership, poor decision-making, and throwing people under the bus. It's just cowardly and not a good way to run a shop that is as important to me personally as the Maryland Athletic Department. So I published a blog post that is shining light on a strong undercurrent of discontent amongst Terp Club boosters. Isn't that our job as bloggers? To post timely information? Maybe I'll ask Buzz Bissinger, he seems to know lots about blogging.

2) I've never had anything bad to say about Byrd and I'm really not sure whre this allegation comes from. About the only gripes I have with Byrd is that they should paint the end zones like the Maryland flag and that I have to rent one of those chairbacks at games because for some reason I have the back of a 65-year-old. I actually really like Byrd aside from the backless bleachers. I think right now it is the perfect size for Maryland football and is surprisingly intimate for what it is. I think that some of the updates the past few years have been great, such as the video displays and the LED scoreboards. But really... Brien, you truly think that Byrd is in need of skyboxes?

3) Russ, you're pretty much on to my point. Maryland baseball is starving for facilities and scholarships. There's no indoor practice facility that I'm aware of aside from the auxiliary gym at Cole. Shipley, despite its renovations two years ago, is still a total joke. The team has made progress which I'm really happy for. Still, out of those 30 wins, too many are disturbingly coming against the Coppin and Morgan States on the schedule and too few are coming against valid ACC opponents. We should not have to scrape EVERY YEAR just to qualify for the ACC Tournament. I put some of that blame on misdirected funds and bad priorities.

Russell said...

Jeremy, I agree with all of that third point. What I disagree with is that "Terry Rupp is the worst manager since Cal Ripken Sr. and a horrible recruiter". Winning 30 games and having a no-hitter thrown are signs that something good is happening, in spite of a lack of facilities and money. Maybe in another year or two under Rupp we'll be winning a few of those one run games. It's not like the program went from good to bad under his watch. He should not be the scapegoat here.

J-Red said...

I'll never say much good about Byrd as long as it has bleacher seating.

Jeremy said...

True Russ. Player development is coming along and the team still manages to attract a strong number of transfers (both from DIII and JuCo) despite the lack of facilities. If we're talking bad coaches, Tom Bradley was waaaaaay worse than Rupp.

Brien said...

Alright, here's my rebuttal to your rebuttal.

1) Maybe I was wrong about your dislike for Byrd. I don't think it needs skyboxes, but I think if the athletic department believes it can make enough money of skyboxes to offset the cost of building them, then it's a great idea. They're in a much better position to make the evaluation of the costs and benefits than I am.

2) I saw that you said you weren't signing the petition, but I think it's pretty weak to post on a campaign to fire someone without taking a firm position. You explained all of the arguments for firing her, and then said that you weren't going to sign the petition. To me, that seems like a cop-out. You're talking about someone's career here. I think you need to take a firm position one way or the other. It seems like you think that she doesn't deserve to get fired now, but you didn't really explain why you think she should be given another chance.

3) I guess what really confuses me is that when it comes to the Nats, it seems like you are willing to give the management the benefit of the doubt in all cases. When it comes to Maryland, it seems like you're very quick to turn on the team, coaches, and administration. Why the different reactions?

J-Red said...

My biggest fear about firing Debbie Yow would be that she would turn up at another ACC school (N.C. State maybe because of her sister) within weeks.

Plus, people have been calling for her termination for literally a decade now, and since the movement started we've won a lot of championships between field hockey, womens lacrosse, mens lacrosse, cheerleading, mens soccer and basketball. We actually won a mens soccer championship. That was unthinkable even as recently as when we were there.

Championships are impressive enough, but to win them in so many different legitimate sports is really impressive.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of college football and basketball, but the excesses allowed at UM football games where the big, dark imbecile leads fans chanting the opposing coach "Sucks" and the same at the basketball games, makes me wonder why these things were not addressed.
I took several youngsters to the UM-GATech game a couple of years ago. The sad thing was that one could not traverse the aisles for the liquor bottles scattered all over the place. It looked like the freakin' Bowery. Proud of that?
I complained to Mrs. Yow and she responded.

Mike Murphy
Ga. Tech, '69
Fairfax, VA

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