Maryland volleyball coach Steve Aird resigned and accepted the head coaching position at Indiana, interim athletic director Damon Evans announced via a release Wednesday.
The Terps will conduct a “national search” for their new coach, according to the release.
“I’m very encouraged about the strides we’ve made and the future of Maryland volleyball,” Aird said through a statement. “This was a gut-wrenching decision, but I feel like this was in the best interest for me and my family.”
When Aird came to College Park in 2014 with the program entering the highly regarded Big Ten, he hoped to build a conference contender through strong recruiting. He secured ranked classes in 2016 and 2017 that were loaded with top-100 PrepVolleyball prospects, leading to on-court improvement.
Aird completed last season with an 18-14 record, his best mark since arriving at Maryland. The Terps featured 12 underclassmen, with many of those players carrying major workloads.
Fred Glass, Indiana’s vice president and athletic director, said the addition of a $17 million sports facility and the school’s location in a recruiting hotbed gave him the incentive to find a coach to take his program to the next level.
“In Steve Aird we have found that person,” Glass said in a release. “He is an elite recruiter, a program-builder of the highest order, a great trainer and tactician, knows the conference well, connects with and graduates his students, and is regarded as one of the best young coaches in America.”
Maryland believed Aird would help the Terps progress rapidly after making the switch to the Big Ten. He made strides towards that end, as his former squad finished the 2014 season ranked 150th in RPI before rising to No. 52 in this past season’s final poll.
Still, the Terps were among the first four teams left out of the NCAA tournament this year, extending a 12-year postseason drought.
Aird’s personality was a deciding factor for many recruits in choosing Maryland. Defensive specialist Samantha Higginbothem’s mother said she was skeptical of the Division I program before meeting with Aird. Outside hitter Gia Milana, a rising junior and the Terps’ best-ever recruit, said Aird was the primary reason she opted for Maryland over other top-tier Big Ten programs.
He’ll try to bring that recruiting skill to Indiana, where he can pitch the ability to turn around a struggling program.
“Indiana Volleyball has a rightful place among the nation’s elite and we will work tirelessly to make that a reality,” Aird said in a statement.
A strong marketing campaign helped the Terps develop attention for their on-court success. After Aird’s arrival at Maryland, attendance figures increased from around 400 fans per match to more than 1,800 per match in Big Ten play last season.
Aird follows his first two recruits, Higginbothem and middle blocker Hailey Murray, out of the program. Libero Kelsey Wicinski also announced she will transfer to Florida State for her final year of eligibility.
Aird leaves the Terps with plenty of attacking talent, including Milana, outside hitter Erika Pritchard and outside/opposite hitter Samantha Dreshsel. Each of those players were top-30 PrepVolleyball recruits.
Still, there will be question marks surrounding the backline. Libero Sam Burgio finished the 2017 campaign as a first-year starter, but with two departures, rising junior Nell Drummey represents the only defensive specialist depth on the roster.
Aird will take over a Hoosiers team that finished 12-20 last season, with two defeats coming via the Terps. It was the first time Maryland finished with a better record than Indiana since Aird took over.