Deborah A. Yow
Deborah A. Yow

Deborah A. Yow currently serves as the Athletic Director for the University of Maryland.  Only one other woman reached that position before her at a major university in the country.  Ms. Yow oversees 25 teams and 600 student athletes.  She took over a $24 million program with many challenges including academic achievement, financial constraints and lack of financial support.  Today that program is defined by substantial on-field successes, improved graduation rates, better fundraising efforts, and a $43 million budget.

Ms. Yow graduated from Elon College, where she majored in English and played basketball.  Her first job was teaching high school English; however, she also coached the school's basketball team.  In 1976 Ms. Yow was hired as the first full-time women's basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.  She built a quality team for the University of Kentucky, moved on to Oral Roberts University, and then to the University of Florida, where she was coach of the Lady Gators basketball team.  The University of Florida Gator Boosters wanted her to raise money for them, and made her an offer she couldn't refuse.  She was the first woman the university hired for that job.

Ms. Yow moved on to the University of North Carolina, in Greensboro, as Associate Athletic Director, and subsequently to Saint Louis University as director of athletics.  In August 1994, Ms. Yow joined the University of Maryland.  During her tenure, the Maryland Terrapins have own nine NCAA national championships.  The successes are a testimony to her values of excellence, teamwork and accountability.  Ms. Yow was elected President of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in 2001.  Ms. Yow was named to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal sports executive "dream team" for her organizational leadership.  She was the only athletic director named to the six-person team.  She also received the Carol Maddox Sport Management Award, presented by the United States Sports Academy for excellence in athletics administration.

Ms. Yow was chosen to serve on the federal government commission that is reviewing the operation of Title IX anti discrimination law in college athletics.  She is one of 15 commissioners appointed to the U.S. Department of Education's new commission on Opportunity in Athletics.  Deborah Yow says the issues surrounding Title IX are challenging and important.  "We need to figure out how to offer opportunities for women, while also providing appropriate opportunities for men."

Under her leadership, she and her staff have achieved many things at the University of Maryland.  She is known as "a coach's athletic director," while at the same time being a highly organized, strategic and proactive leader and administrator.  She has authored numerous articles and books on athletics management and human behavior.  Ms. Yow chose a male-dominated field, faced negative attitudes in male-dominated boardrooms and arenas, and yet, has emerged as one of the nation's leading athletic directors and one of the most respected and honored in her profession.  She has opened the doors of opportunity for many women.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2003.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2003