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What Impact Will Yow’s Gender Have On The Coaching Search?

February 28, 2011

Debbie Yow, courtesy Roger WinsteadWith just two games remaining in the regular season, and Sidney Lowe's fate in the coming weeks trending more and more toward dismissal, folks are turning their attention to the forthcoming coaching search.

You may have perused the Coaching Candidate Spreadsheet to brush up on potential candidates, or may be talking more with your fellow officemates about the who, the when and the how of said coaching search will transpire.

Here's something to ponder around the water cooler: this coaching search will be unique because of the gender of State's AD, Debbie Yow.

Athletics administration is an extremely male-dominated arena, and female athletics directors like Yow are very few and far between, particularly at the BCS level. As of 2010, less than 5 percent of all BCS programs were led by a female athletic director, including Yow.

Given the scant numbers of women heading athletics departments across the country, it's not hard to imagine most coaching candidates have never worked for a female AD, either as head coach or as an assistant. So if you're a prominent coaching candidate and are entertaining a position at a school in one of the highest profile basketball conferences, in perhaps the highest profile neighborhood in college basketball…does the fact your potential boss-to-be is a woman have any bearing on your decision?

In the world we live in, many of us would like to believe the gender of our superiors is irrelevant; for most professions and most professionals, I'm sure it is. But the job of coaching men's basketball is as male dominated a profession as you'll ever find. And not just any men. Men who are brash, have big egos and are used to getting their way.

So when a coach finds themselves answering to a female superior and the natural clashes between coach and AD occur, the friction can be pretty intense.

No better example of this was Yow's relationship with Gary Williams at Maryland. She and Gary played as nice as they could in front of the cameras, but  in the years following his national title, Yow insisted Williams improve his sagging recruiting and results, and the two butted heads behind the scenes.

But what led to this clash? Was it gender-fueled in any way? Was Williams put off more by the perception of being "bossed around" by a female AD than by the way Yow handled the situation as an administrator? Obviously, that's a question only Gary could answer.

The concern, if you're a State fan, is that either Yow's gender or her rocky relationship with one of the better-known and respected coaches in college basketball could be a roadblock to a potential hire.

On one hand, I feel like if a coaching candidate were so hung up on Yow's gender as to pass on the job as a result, he's probably not fit for the job in the first place.

But on the other hand, if all the chips are on the table, the coach is teetering on taking the job and the tipping point that causes them to ultimately pass on the job is Yow's gender, that fact—however trivial—would be a tough pill to swallow knowing it cost State a potential program-changing coach.

At the end of the day, I'd like to think Yow being a female AD will have little bearing on the eventual hiring process. But it is a unique component of the job, and any prospective coaching client will consider it along with all of the other aspects of the State job when they decide whether or not to sign on the dotted line.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Core permalink
    March 1, 2011 6:03 pm

    It all comes down to being successful. Win games, graduate players, keep players out of the local headlines and I’m sure the AD’s office will be nothing but a valuable asset. Don’t perform in any or one of those areas and I’m sure someone will be put on notice. For me it all comes down to accountability and if the new coach is confident in his abilities and gets results there should be no problem.

    • James C. permalink*
      March 1, 2011 7:26 pm

      I agree, and I think where the friction came with Gary was that he frankly coasted a bit after the title. He’s always hated recruiting and has been open about that before, but the classes following the title should’ve been just monster hauls, and they were very under-whelming to say the least. I’m sure Debbie felt like Gary should’ve leveraged his title more at the time and likely when she addressed it with him, he took umbrage with it.

      If a coach demands results and accountability from his team, he should expect those same demands from his higher-ups, regardless of gender.

  2. packalum08 permalink
    March 1, 2011 6:18 pm

    While the female issue is an interesting one, I think her reputation will matter more. If she were a new AD, I could understand the gender issue playing a bigger role. Yow’s been around a while and her reputations is pretty set. And while her spat with GW is well known, I think we can all agree that her reputation is a step up from Fowler.

    • James C. permalink*
      March 1, 2011 7:22 pm

      I can agree with that. So knowing her reputation, are you at all concerned it will stand in the way of hiring our next coach?

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