Interim Maryland AD Randy Eaton: “I Want Everyone to Know…We’re Going to Keep the Ship In the Same Direction”

June 30, 2010 | Ryan Chell

Former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow had received offers from other schools during her 16-year run at College Park to be their athletic director. Each time, she declined because she loved Maryland and she said the same thing. It would have to be the perfect opportunity for her to leave.

And that’s what Yow just did last week, as she left for her sister, Kay Yow’s, school, NC State, to be their athletic director. Left with a void now in College Park, Dr. C. D. Mote and the Maryland administrative staff had to fill that void in order to keep everything running smoothly.

The staff wants more time to interview potential candidates, but the position needed to be filled on an interim basis. So in comes Randy Eaton, who had been the senior associate athletics director and the department’s chief financial adviser.

He has been involved with intercollegiate athletic the last twenty years, and Eaton, 49, has been at Maryland since 2003.

Eaton said he literally blinked over the last two weeks and now he is in the position as the college’s interim athletic director.

Eaton had a few minutes between sending out thank you messages to talk with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction.”

“This has all happened so fast within four of five days of Debbie announcing her departure. My main focus was to reach out to everyone who reached out to me with well-wishes and ‘how I can helps?’.”  It’s taken me about two days to return little more than 600 emails I’ve received.”

But even though it was a surprise to see him now sitting in the AD’s chair, they did hear some rumors over the last couple weeks about Yow leaving to pursue a dream.

“We started getting ripples about it two weeks before the official announcement down at Raleigh. But as we got closer and we knew Debbie had the opportunity…it just made more and more sense for her to go home.”

“Her family is rooted in North Carolina, and with the loss of her sister, Kay, Debbie was stepping in as the patriarch of the family.  The more you thought about it, the more it made sense for her…still being an athletic director, still being in the ACC, and getting to have her personal life being a bigger part of her daily life. It ended being a win-win for Debbie.”

And now, not only is Eaton living the dream right now as well, he thanks Eaton for not being the athletic director who leaves behind a mess for the new AD to clean up after.

“We were left in a great situation,” Eaton said. “Typically those programs have some issues…and we aren’t facing any of that here at Maryland. I’m not walking into a mess.”

And Eaton said that it helps having been here since he doesn’t have to spend time getting to know a bunch of new people.

“Ive been here for seven years. I’ve been in my current role for the last two years. I know the lay of the land if you will. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the next couple of months while we’re in the search for a new athletic director.”

And Eaton said things really aren’t going to change any from when Yow was in charge.

“I just wanted everyone to know that we’re going to keep the ship in the same direction that it is,” he said.

And even though he is listed as the interim AD, he has been handed the keys to Maryland’s 27 athletic programs, which he said the school should have no problem supporting and keeping for the next several years.

“Dr. Mote made it clear to me that I have full authority as athletic director. It may be an interim tag, but if major decisions come up during my tenure, it would be no different than Debbie’s was prior to her departure.”

Eaton, like every other administrative assistant in athletics, it is their dream to become an athletic director and to have a program of their own to lead. Now there are a couple questions coming Eaton’s way…would he leave Maryland for a permanent position at another school, like Yow, or if he produces well enough, could be become the athletic director here at Maryland, losing the interim tag?

Eaton answered the question regarding the chances of him going elsewhere.

“Part of it it has to be the right situation, and I think everyone views it that way when they take their first AD job. But I’ve enjoyed my time here at Maryland.”

“Do I think that my time as interim will generate more desire than there already is? Probalby not. I do want to be an athletic director. I do want to lead my own athletic program someday.  But its got to be the right situation. It’s got to be a better situation than I have right now. I’ve got a good position here at Maryland..this is a great athletic program.”

So, it looks like College Park may have Eaton here for awhile, and hopefully he can live up to the expectations that Yow left behind. And unlike Yow quickly jumping for NC State over the last week, Eaton is going to take things slow.

“I’m not in a hurry to leave here. It would have to be something very special to make me want to look at it, pursue it, and to leave Maryland.”

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