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Debbie Yow Adds Former 82nd Airborne Tank Commander As Senior Associate AD

August 19, 2010

Chris Kingston (Courtesy

Chris Kingston hired away from Army’s athletics department into recently created senior associate AD spot.

“He’s our kind of person,” said new athletic director Debbie Yow.

No kidding. Buy “our kind of person,” Yow of course means an ex 82nd Airborne tank-platoon commander from Fort Bragg.

I’ll say this for Debbie: She’s not afraid to surround herself with strong personalities.  

Kingston brings not only a decorated military and leadership background to the position, but also some experience of several coaching hires:

Kingston has been instrumental in some of the Army Athletic Association’s latest head coaching hires. Specifically, he planned, organized, and executed the head football coach search which was led by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and resulted in the hire of Coach Rich Ellerson. He performed the same responsibilities in the head men’s basketball search which led to the hire of Coach Zach Spiker from Cornell. Most recently, he led the head men’s soccer coach and head golf coach searches that garnered Coach Russell Payne from the University of Maryland and Coach Brian Watts from Oregon State University, respectively.

Let’s take a quick look at these hires:

Football, Rich Ellerson. Ellerson was hired at the end of the 2008 season, meaning he has just one season in the books as Army’s head man. The Black Knights notched a win over SEC foe Vanderbilt last year and took down a Ball State team a year after Nate Davis led them to a 12-2 record, but ultimately the Knights ended Ellerson’s first year 5-7.

Men’s Basketball, Zach Spiker. From the site:

After taking the reins of the Army men’s basketball program on Oct. 3, 2009, Zach Spiker immediately went to work on continuing the Black Knights’ upward trend of success.

Spiker’s first team at West Point posted a 14-15 overall record, matching or surpassing the Black Knights’ win total in 22 of the previous 23 seasons. The Black Knights’ first-year mentor posted the most wins by an Army men’s basketball coach in their inaugural season at West Point since the legendary Bob Knight won 18 games in 1965-66, and Army’s nine Division I non-conference victories were the most since the program joined a conference in 1981.

Prior to his arrival at West Point, Spiker was one of the architects behind the recent resurgence of the men’s basketball program at Cornell University. Spiker served as an assistant under former Big Red head coach Steve Donahue for five years, helping the program to upper-division finishes in the Ivy League during each of his five seasons.

Spiker was instrumental in helping Cornell’s recruiting efforts that culminated in the Big Red winning three consecutive Ivy League titles (2008-10), including two with Spiker on the staff. It marked the first back-to-back league titles for Cornell in school history and the first time a team other than Pennsylvania or Princeton copped consecutive Ivy League championships. The core group that arrived in Ithaca during Spiker’s tenure went on to win two games in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, becoming the first Ivy League squad to advance to the Sweet 16 in 31 years.

Sounds like a pretty solid hire.

Men’s Soccer, Russell Payne; Golf, Brian Watts. Both Payne and Watts are recent hires who’ve yet to coach a season with their respective teams. Payne’s pedigree–assistant coach on two national title teams at Maryland–is impressive, however.

The key thing to take away from Kingston’s hire is the continued message it sends to folks within the athletic department. He’s the kind of person Yow values in her organization–a results-focused, no-nonsense, brass-tacks type. He will set clear expectations and expect they to be met; those who can’t will be dealt with appropriately, I imagine, just as Yow as said she will do.

Now, I’d love to be a fly on the wall if and when Debbie Yow and her Airborne associate don’t see eye-to-eye. Or when Tom O’Brien–proud Navy football alum and ex-Marine–sits down with Kingston to discuss this year’s Army-Navy game.

Welcome to the party, pal.


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