Damon Evans on Upcoming Facility Upgrades, Progression under Kevin Willard and Mike Locksley

With winter sports in full swing and spring sports right around the corner, it’s a busy time for Maryland athletics as athletic director Damon Evans embraces the changes in College Park.

“I’m excited about where we are as a sports program. I’m fortunate, to be quite frank, because we have so many great coaches, and I’ve always told people my job is to provide the coaches and the student athletes the necessary resources they need and then get the heck out the way,” Evans said on the latest episode of Hear the Turtle. As he noted Maryland football’s steady win progression from year one through year four, Evans also touched on the program’s progress under Mike Locksley after coming off consecutive bowl wins for the first time in 20 years.

“You set markers and you talk about, okay, how do we get better each year? You have indicators out there,” Evans said. “One is you want to win more games, but the other is you want to be competitive against some of those teams that we have not as late been competitive against. When you take a look at Ohio State and you take a look at Michigan just to name a few, those are teams that have been very, very successful. They’re blue bloods in the sport of football, and what we did this past year, we were in the game and we had a chance to win both of those games.”

It’s clear, though, what the next step is for the program. “Now what we need to do, you guys, let’s just go ahead and call a spade a spade. We need to beat them. We need to beat one of those guys. You know, we beat Penn State a couple years ago during covid at Penn State. Great win for us, but we need to beat a Penn State of Michigan and Ohio State. We need to beat one of them at home in front of our home crowd.”

On the hardwood, Evans shares a similar feeling that fans have embraced with the new pace of play in year one under Kevin Willard.

“We play with such great intensity. I’ve even said to Willard, how do you get them to play hard all the time? That’s been incredible and some of the offensive sets have been great. I’ve had a lot of people tell me it’s fun to watch us play and that’s half the battle. You want to have a product out there that people enjoy watching and that the kids enjoy playing in that type of system. So where we are, I think we’re 14-7 maybe and 5-5 in the Big Ten, which is so dog on competitive. I think there’s a projection of nine to ten teams getting in the tournament from the Big Ten and we’re one of those teams, but there’s a lot of basketball. I’m confident that we’ll do well, but I’m excited about the future of Maryland basketball. And I also want to say this, he’s done a hell of a recruiting job too. I mean, you start looking at the kids that we’ve got to commit and sign at this institution. Great coaching staff. So Willard has exceeded my expectations, but I knew he would do well and there’s still a lot of room for growth. We’re gonna be fine under his leadership.”

Willard will get a chance to benefit in year two when construction begins “in June or July of this summer” for the Barry P. Gossett Basketball Performance Center, which was announced on the same day he was introduced as the next head coach. “I know that’s long overdue for a lot of our fans and it’s a necessary resource that we need, which will also create other space for other programs that we have.” But that isn’t the only facility upgrade coming to College Park.

“We’ve already started construction on a new or renovated women’s lacrosse and field hockey complex, which we hope that will open sometime this coming fall,” Evans added. Considering baseball’s historic 2022 season, head coach Rob Vaughn will also benefit with additional resources. “We’re gonna be, uh, doing indoor hitting facilities for both baseball and softball. That’s upcoming. We’ll be moving forward with that. We’re in the design phases of that. We’re gonna be putting new lights in at the. At SECU Stadium, there will be new lights going in at baseball and new lights going in at softball, which will now bring us up to standard to broadcast games via TV in the right manner. So I’m excited about that. But we have a whole lot of other facilities on the drawing board. We’ve gotta do some things with our men’s lacrosse program. We’ve got some things that we’re looking at for men’s and women’s soccer. You name it, golf and so forth. So we’ve got a lot of ’em on the drawing board.”

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