Kevin Anderson was standing by watching as Maryland football coach Randy Edsall conducted an interview following the Terps' second win in their history over Penn State on Nov. 1 at Beaver Stadium.
When a reporter went up to Anderson to shake his hand and congratulate the Terps' athletic director on the victory, Anderson smiled and pulled the reporter in for a hug instead.
That was a special win for Anderson and part of what is proving to be a significant year for Anderson and Maryland's athletic department.
The football team has posted back-to-back winning seasons for just the third time since 1985 and is preparing to play in the Foster Farms Bowl against Stanford. Meanwhile, Maryland's men's basketball team is ranked 15th nationally in the latest AP poll.
Everything is beginning to come together as Anderson hoped it would when he hired Edsall and men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon in 2011.
"I really feel good about the future of these programs, not only the immediate future, but as we move on with the recruiting that Mark and Randy are doing," said Anderson, a San Francisco native who was hired in 2010 after seven years as the athletic director at Army. "And the potential student-athletes that are going to come in here and play with the ones we have already, I think we're going to have some exciting days to come."
Anderson has been vital in this process, a driving force behind the scenes providing the tools for Turgeon, Edsall and other Maryland coaches to be competitive following the Terps' move to the Big Ten.
"I always felt with athletic directors, they give the coach the tools," said former Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams, who now serves as the school's senior managing director for alumni relations and athletic development. "In other words, you can be a very good basketball coach and can have very good players. But you also need the tools — by that, I mean the budgets, the equal playing field that the other schools in your conference have — you also need to have the tools necessary to be successful."
This process has not been seamless.
Anderson parted ways with long-time football coach Ralph Friedgen before hiring Edsall and was forced to replace a national championship-winning coach following Williams' retirement in 2011.
Maryland cut seven teams in 2012 to help the university overcome a multimillion-dollar deficit, which Anderson said at the time was "one of the most difficult things I've ever encountered in my entire life besides death to immediate family members."
As recently as this year, Anderson expressed concern about his perception among fans and alumni to friend Frank Kelly, who served 12 years in the Maryland Senate and is a member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.
Maryland's football team had won just 13 games during Edsall's first three seasons while dealing with numerous injuries to key players. The men's basketball team had gone three straight seasons without making the NCAA tournament under Turgeon, had recently completed a disappointing 17-15 season and was dealing with the negative attention that came along with five scholarship players leaving the program.
"He took some heat, and I can remember talking to Kevin when things weren't going well," Kelly said. "But I always trusted Kevin that he made the right hires. I love Kevin. I can't say enough good things about him. He has all the great qualities you want in a leader. He's got tremendous integrity. He's got vision. He's got courage. When you look at those two hires, he took criticism after he hired them.
"But I felt from the beginning that he made the right hires, and Kevin never lost confidence in his coaches."
Anderson was also a key figure in Maryland's move to the Big Ten and in the development and finalization of plans to transform Cole Field House into an indoor practice facility and athletic complex, which should help with recruiting for football and other sports.
"It's a team thing," Kelly said of the Cole Field House project. "But without Kevin, it doesn't happen."
Anderson has renovated the weight room and upgraded the basketball offices at Xfinity Center.
"I would have enjoyed coaching a long time for Kevin," Williams said. "But I got to be at the age where I had to start looking down the road. Your own personal well-being becomes more important as you get older, and that was a disappointing thing that some people look at that being that I left because Kevin came, and that's completely the opposite. I've really enjoyed the year I've worked for Kevin."
Anderson is particularly proud of the new "Maryland Way Guarantee," which guarantees lifetime scholarships for athletes in all sports. Maryland was one of the first Division I institutions to offer such a guarantee.
"I think compared to the prior [athletic directors], who I have a lot of respect for, and everyone is different in the way they do their job, and I think they were effective, but I think Kevin brings a little more personal involvement to the position with the coaches, with the student-athletes and to some degrees with the fans and the supporters," said Barry Gossett, a longtime University of Maryland supporter and one of the school's top donors. "He's really a people person, and he has very strong beliefs in building the character of especially the student-athletes. ... He is tenacious about the student-athletes and making sure the student-athletes are prepared to do something after athletics."
While Anderson has been rumored to be a candidate for athletic director jobs at other schools, he says his focus is on Maryland.
"I'm always flattered and humbled when my name is mentioned," Anderson said, "but it is a reflection of the greatness of our institution and the progress we have made as an athletics department."
Kelly texted Anderson after Maryland's win over Penn State, writing, "You fooled them again."
Kelly texted Anderson again after Maryland unveiled its plans for the indoor athletic complex in November: "Kevin, without you, this doesn't happen."
"We want to be the best in the classroom. We want to win conference championships and to be in national championships. That's what we talk about all the time," Anderson said. "The other thing we want to do is be innovative in intercollegiate athletics. And one thing we're trying to address for our program is that we really address the needs of the 21st-century student-athlete."