Len Elmore On What New Maryland AD Needs: “The Ability…To Make A Decision That’s Best For the University”

July 16, 2010 | Ryan Chell

Len Elmore
Len Elmore is a big part of the University of Maryland‘s athletic past.

During his playing days at College Park as a member of the men’s basketball team, Elmore was a three-time All-ACC selection, and was named to the 50th Anniversary team of the conference. He is the school’s all-time leading rebounder. He was an All-Star selection in last year at Maryland in 1974, and he went on to become a first round selection by the Bullets that same year.

He then took his talents to a 10-year NBA career, but even after his career ended he stayed close to basketball. In 1992, he founded a sports management company, called Precept Sports and Entertainment. And in 1997, he began the job that most people nowadays know him for-broadcasting games for ESPN.

But now Elmore has a new job on his already busy plate-picking a new athletic director after the departure of Debbie Yow to North Carolina State. But he did have enough time to spend with Drew Forrester earlier this week talking about the search committee that he is a member of to hand pick a new captain steering Maryland’s athletic program.

Elmore told Forrester that actually this 13-man board was actually already prepared for this job, because over the years, the University heard rumors that Yow was on the move out.

“There had been some rumblings over the last couple of years that Debbie has looking to move on,” Elmore said. “There is a point of understanding sometimes that you can stay in one place too long.”

But Elmore did give Yow credit for making sure everything was in working order instead of just driving down to Raleigh in a flash.

“To her credit, the athletic department is in pretty good shape. She left it in a manner and position where her successor won’t be filled with anxt coming into the job. There will be some tough decisions, but all in all its in better position than most athletic departments at other major colleges.”

Elmore did say though that while Yow had problems communicating with most of the coaches on campus; ironically, who are members of the committee to find a successor, Yow did a great job in her 16 years at College Park.

“I’m sure this is telling any secrets, but there was some difficulty in developing relationships and maintaining relationships among some of her key coaches. Other than that, I can’t really point to any real weaknesses. She did a terrific job under her watch. Maryland regained national prominence.”

Elmore did say that Yow’s ability to keep her personal relationships out of her decisions was a great thing for the athletic director’s position, and they will look to find someone else who shares those traits.”

“The ability to make tough decisions,” Elmore said when asked what the most important trait was that the athletic director needs. “When you’ve got different interests pulling away at you, you certainly have to sit down and make a decision that’s best for the university, and not behold onto any special interests.”

One might ask the question though-with 17 different people from different backgrounds-coaches, ex-players like Elmore close to the university, and administrative staff, how can that many people agree to disagree when it comes down to making a choice that’s best for the University of Maryland?

Elmore has the same hesitation, but he assures those who are interested in their search that eventually the amount of smart people in the room(Elmore, joked saying there were actually 16 smart people in the room), they will know who the right candidate will be when they pop up.

“We wont know for sure till our first meeting, which is upcoming. At first blush, it might seem unwieldy. But when you have smart people in the room, you have an opportunity to do something that’s very important. And I think people find a way to come together with the very diverse expertise that were going to have on a board of that size. And ultimately we’re going to whittle things down to the point where at we’re all going to be on the same page. It really depends on the makeup of the committee, not necessarily the numbers.

And Elmore also said that the committee is going to see what kinds of needs the University has, and then go from there when it comes to picking a candidate.

“A lot of the nuts and bolts of the AD’s job responsibilities and a lot of the depth of of what is needed going forward with how the athletic department is positioned right now remains to be seen. And again, we wont know that until we get involved in a meeting.”

And while Elmore and the search committee would love to choose a candidate that has done this before on this kind of stage, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a choice who has been around the block. It just has to be someone right for the University of Maryland at College Park.

“I would say experience certainly counts, but you can find experience in some reasonably young athletic director who has been there. You don’t necessarily have to get someone who will look at this as their absolute last job. It really comes down to looking at the department’s needs. And really the person making the choice is not going to be the committee, its going to be the new President.

And Elmore said that with incumbent President Dr. Mote resigning, it is only fitting that the new President, whoever it may be, should be the one to say the final say.

“Its only fair that the new President gets to pick the person they’re going to work with whom they’re going to work with closely.”