New Maryland Athletic Director to Sample Sweet, Sour of Job
On the list of cushy jobs in sports, big-time college athletic director is right near the top.
Millions of dollars and the finest facilities are yours to command. You get to fly in private jets and eat the best food and on someone else’s dime to boot.
Athletic directors also get the power to hire and fire coaches as well as the ability to change thousands of young lives by funding a part or all of their college education.
It’s no wonder Damon Evans wanted in on the University of Maryland’s athletic director gig, which he received a couple of weeks ago.
While the job may have seemed entertaining when he took it, Evans has quickly been introduced to the part that isn’t so fun, namely the part where you clean up messes and deal with headaches.
Evans has been Maryland’s acting athletic director since Kevin Anderson went on a sabbatical last October and then resigned for good in April.
Evans held down the fort for most of the academic year, but things have gone quite afield since school ended for the spring.
As we told you a few weeks ago, Maryland is coping with the collapse and subsequent death of football lineman Jordan McNair while he was involved in a spring workout session.
The cause of McNair’s death has not been announced and getting to the bottom of what happened and ensuring the community that it won’t happen again is Evans’ first challenge.
But it certainly isn’t his only one.
Just last week, men’s basketball, the crown jewel of the Maryland athletic program, was touched by the revelation that the department has received grand jury subpoenas related to an ongoing federal probe of alleged wrongdoing in the sport.
Investigators want to know whether coaches and other personnel were involved in schemes to pay two high school prospects to come to Maryland.
While one of the players, Silvio de Souza did not enroll at Maryland, a second player, Diamond Stone, did play in College Park in the 2015-16 season before leaving to go to the NBA.
The school is also asked to explain any connection to a former agent who is at the core of the investigation that has already taken down coaches and programs across the basketball spectrum.
It must be noted that Maryland is said to be fully cooperating with the probe and has cleared itself of any wrongdoing, legally or NCAA-wise.
And the school may have to raise millions of dollars to complete the conversion of beloved Cole Field House from a basketball arena into an indoor football practice facility.
Even with these challenges, Damon Evans is likely happy for the chance to run an athletic department again, Fourteen years ago, Evans became the first African-American athletic director to run a Southeastern Conference school when he took the helm at Georgia, his alma mater.
He resigned that post six years later after he was arrested on a DUI charge and was in the private sector for four years before Anderson tapped him to be his top lieutenant at Maryland.
So, while Damon Evans may be glad to be back in the big chair, he’s hoping that seat won’t get too hot too soon.
And that’s how I see it for this week.