Press Release from February 15, 2005
West Point Athletic Director Breaking New Ground
This Story Appeared in on ArNews on February 14 and was Written by Eric
Feb. 15, 2005
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Army News Service, Feb. 14, 2005) -- New Army athletic
director Kevin Anderson is the first African-American to head up an
athletic department at any of the service military academies.
"I've always been fortunate to have strong, black male role models
in my life, starting with my father, Ralph, and uncles," Anderson
said. "My father was a sergeant in the Army and that's how he raised
us and instilled education, values and caring."
The U. S. Military Academy leadership hired Anderson Dec. 13 from Oregon
State after a successful stint where he helped balance the athletic
department's budget for the first time in nearly 15 years.
His wealth of sports knowledge also comes from stints at the University
of California - Berkeley and Stanford University athletic departments.
But his path took a different direction in mid-stream as the San Francisco
native spent the first 10 years of his working life at the Xerox Corporation.
"I fell into this (sports management) half-way through my tenure
at Xerox," Anderson said. "I was chosen to participate in
a program to work with underprivileged young people in Oakland. I was
working with kids that weren't achieving higher standards in math and
"Through that, I saw that if you make an investment that those
kids will flourish and when I returned to Xerox it wasn't the same,"
During that time while he was officiating football with a high school
friend, federal judge Mark Jacobs, they talked about sports administration
and he recommended Anderson for a job at Stanford.
He would serve four years with the San Francisco Education Fund before
he applied for a job at Stanford in 1993 and has never looked back since.
Since taking over as athletic director here Jan. 18, the 1979 San Francisco
State University graduate has found the transition to be seamless due
to the West Point community.
"I've felt welcomed since day one, this is truly family and to
be accepted into the (academy) family the way I have been -- I can't
thank them enough," Anderson said. "The community is making
me feel that I've always been a part of this which makes the transition
"I have a sense of pride and loyalty to the academy and I will
put my best foot forward because of my position and the history of this
place," Anderson added.
A six-man panel went through an intense interview process to find the
right man to replace former AD Rick Greenspan, who is now AD at Indiana
University, and Anderson shined over seven other finalists, many of
whom were West Point graduates.
"We had a strong field of applicants that included West Point graduates,
career Army officers and professionals in sports administration,"
said U. S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox
Jr. "Among those talented prospects, we were looking for the right
fit in terms of character, leadership, experience and vision. Kevin
emerged as the best all-around candidate."
As the passionate Anderson gets used to his new environment, he wants
to evaluate every aspect of the Directorate of Intercollegiate Athletics.
"Prior to joining Oregon State University, President Ed Ray came
aboard and said, "I'm going to be a freshman for the first six-to-nine
months, so I can take everything in," Anderson said, "I would
like to think that I'm a plebe for six-to-nine months, not to say that
I won't make a decision that has to be made, but I truly want to get
more of a flavor of the academy and its athletic department."
The overseer of 25 Division I sports, Anderson begins his tenure here
as the Army football team reverts back to independent status after seven
less than spectacular seasons in Conference USA. Every Army football
fan is looking forward to a more successful run under his and Bobby
"We looked at our scheduling, how we schedule and determined to
play teams with a profile more like the academy," Anderson said.
"We (Bobby Ross and I) talked strategy and I think we both believe
we're on schedule and there's no doubt we believe that we will continue
"We will be competitive. We'll play competitive teams with our
goal to make a bowl game," Anderson added. "There's no reason
to believe with the success at Navy and how they've done it, that it
can't be done here."
Once Anderson became a serious candidate for the job at West Point,
Oregon State AD Todd Stansbury talked about Ross being the man for the
job here as they worked together at Georgia Tech.
"Todd told me there's no finer man, not coach, but man, than Coach
Ross," Anderson said. "There's no better man to put us back
on track than Bobby Ross. I've worked with Bill Walsh, Tyrone Willingham
and Jeff Tedford, all fine coaches, but I hold Coach Ross in the same
light as those gentlemen if not more so."
Working with the cadet athletes and Soldiers every day is also one of
the big reasons he loves the job here because it solidifies his firm
belief in leadership.
"I've worked at schools that compare academically, but the leadership
qualities and values that these young people have is quite amazing,"
Anderson said. "It's an honor and a pleasure to work with these
people because it helps me further myself everyday to continue to be
an effective leader and hone my leadership skills."
While settling into his job, Anderson tries to deflect the importance
of his place as the first African-American AD in academy history.
The fact is there are only nine African-Americans who lead the 117 Division
I-A athletic departments in the United States, and three were hired
in December, which also included Daryl Gross at Syracuse University
and McKinley Boston Jr. at New Mexico State, in addition to Anderson.
"I wish I could take credit for being the first, but I've been
around people who've been the first all my life and haven't gotten credit
for it," said the 49-year old AD. "They're the ones who allowed
me to be where I am right now. In one way it's flattering, but in other
ways it's saddening because I've been around these people who should
have benefited from what they did, but I'm just benefiting from the
fruits of their labor."
Since the days of Henry O. Flipper, who was the first African-American
to graduate West Point in 1877, the academy has been a leader in its
diversity and judging people on their merit more so than their ethnicity
or the color of their skin, officials said.
"Civil-rights struggles in previous generations have liberated
all of us, and today, minorities have more opportunities than ever,"
Lennox said. "The U.S. Military Academy supports equal opportunity
and enjoys access to a broad spectrum of candidates, with that being
said, we hired Kevin Anderson because of his background and vision,
not because of his race."