The University of Maryland confirmed Monday athletic director Kevin Anderson will go on a six-month sabbatical for “professional development,” an announcement that comes two days after the school denied reports it had dismissed him.
Damon Evans, who serves as the executive director, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of athletics, will take over Anderson’s responsibilities. Since arriving at this university in 2014, Evans has overseen day-to-day operations, as well as managing finances and ensuring the department complies with the NCAA. He’ll report directly to university President Wallace Loh.
In a message addressed to his colleagues, Anderson wrote he would spend the next six months focusing on leadership development with groups focused on issues of equity, student athlete activism and inclusion in college athletics. He will remain this university’s athletic director during that time, and will continue participating on some NCAA and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics committees.
Through a statement, the school rejected several Saturday morning claims that Anderson was fired, but it refused to comment on whether he had been placed on leave. At the time of publishing, there was not yet indication of what, if anything, had changed since the weekend.
Evans thanked Loh in a statement for the chance to assume Anderson’s responsibilities. He praised the “strong foundation” this university offers, noting that it leads the Big Ten in championships since becoming a member of the conference in 2014.
“It’s truly a privilege to work collectively with a talented group of students, coaches and administrators who work tirelessly to be at the forefront of the Big Ten both academically and athletically,” Evans said in the statement. “We will continue to sustain a culture of athletic and academic excellence.”
Anderson has led this university’s athletic department for the past seven years, managing major undertakings such as its move to the Big Ten and the construction of an indoor football training facility at Cole Field House.
Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten to bring financial stability to the athletic department, which had cut seven varsity sports in 2012.
The athletic department’s financial standing has improved since Anderson took over in 2010. For the 2010-11 academic year, the department brought in less than $62 million in revenue, according to USA Today. In 2015-16, it earned more than $94 million in revenue.
The Cole Field House renovation has been the cornerstone project under Anderson. The $196 million project will include indoor and outdoor practice fields, strength and conditioning training facilities, an orthopedic treatment center and a sports medicine research center.
The indoor fields opened over the summer, while the full construction process is expected to finish in early 2019.
Notable coaching changes under Anderson included the hiring of men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon, as well as football coaches Randy Edsall and DJ Durkin.
Turgeon led the men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 in 2016, its deepest run in the NCAA tournament since 2003. However, the football team has posted just three winning records in seven full seasons since Anderson took over.
Anderson was the athletic director at Army for six years before coming to College Park. He also was the executive associate athletics director at Oregon State from January 2003 to December 2004, and served as the executive associate athletic director for external affairs at the University of California.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story stated Kevin Anderson hired men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman. Tillman was announced as coach three months before Anderson took over. This story has been updated.