When Kevin Anderson picked up a phone call from the SF State Alumni Association, he didn’t react, because he thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.
Once Anderson, the athletic director at the University of Maryland, realized he was being honored by his alma mater with an Alumni Hall of Fame induction, he said he had to immediately shut the door to take in the entire situation.
“It was an emotional moment,” Anderson said. “To be considered with some of these other great people is humbling. To even be in the same room with them means everything to me.”
Anderson masterminded a 2014 move for the University of Maryland from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten Conference – a move that offered more financial and exposure opportunities for the school, according to Anderson.
“The Big Ten is being viewed in 26 different countries,” Anderson said. “We go from being a regional program in the ACC to the Big Ten, where we are not only nationally viewed but internationally.”
Anderson also created “The Maryland Way Guarantee,” a policy that promises lifetime degree opportunities for all student athletes, even those no longer playing, according to the Big Ten Network.
For Anderson, the Maryland Way is part of a larger movement to take better care of student athletes.
“We have a responsibility to help them out,” Anderson said. “We’re mentoring them. We’re molding them, not as athletes, but as people.”
Anderson was honored at the SF State President’s Dinner and Alumni Hall of Fame Celebration this past weekend for his achievements along with fellow alumni Major General Barbara Lavis Brannon, Honorable Mu Sochua, Sherry Hirota and Daniel Sullivan. SF State President Leslie E. Wong spoke of the pride in the SF State community and how the university’s alumni never stop their hard work.
“The sun never sets on an SF State alum,” Wong said.
Despite dealing with the transition onto the larger national and international stage, University of Maryland teams have experienced tournament success under Anderson’s leadership. Since he took over six years ago, Maryland programs have won four National Championships, appeared in five National Championship games and made 11 Final Four appearances.
Before taking the helm at the university, Anderson experienced success at other programs, namely Oregon State University and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The baseball team Anderson oversaw as athletics director at Oregon State University won two consecutive College World Series championships shortly after his departure. After Oregon State’s success, University of Oregon reinstated the baseball program, according to Anderson.
During his second year as director of athletics at West Point, Anderson took the women’s basketball team to the school’s only NCAA basketball tournament appearance.
Anderson may be a symbol of SF State’s success today, but he recalled his first class at SF State where he was overmatched by the 15 books assigned by political science professor, Kay Lawson, whom Anderson would later describe as a mentor.
“I got the syllabus that day and I thought, ‘There’s no way she expects us to read this all,'” Anderson said laughing. “Yep. She expected us to read it all. And I retook that course.”
Anderson went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science. According to Anderson, Lawson pulled him aside and praised him for his commitment to success for taking the class again and finishing it the second time.
Another lasting SF State memory for Anderson was getting to play for football coach Vic Rowen in 1974, he said.
“Vic molded my life,” Anderson said. “I owe him.”
Anderson recalled a game against University of Nevada, Reno that was particularly memorable because of a key blunder he made.
“I laid a great block,” he said. “Our running back, Rusty, ran for what would’ve taken his game total to a spectacular 100-yard performance. They whistled me for a foul, which I disagreed with, and on the sidelines Vic said to me, ‘No, you clipped him.’ Rusty finished with 98 yards.”
During Anderson’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged the current SF State Director of Athletics, Charles Guthrie, as someone SF State should be proud to have, and who is doing wonderful things for the school. He said Guthrie was his mentee.
Guthrie said he has nothing but respect for Anderson.
“He’s one of the top dogs,” Guthrie said. “He really is one of the big guys out there.”
According to Anderson, his success is not what makes him happiest at the end of the day. He said what really matters to him is getting to see his former athletes live fulfilling lives.
“It’s not the four years with me on the field that matter,” Anderson said. “It’s every day after that. It’s when I meet their family and hear about their career. I’m blessed to have had an influence on these people’s lives.”