Where are you going!? What about your PhD?!
These were (and continue to be) the first two responses I receive after telling people I resigned from my position with Maryland Made Terps. And though I appreciate the eagerness, fervor, and curiosity – these questions revealed something more significant to me. As a community, we often look ahead or look away rather than acknowledging what is happening in the present. As a community, we often get caught up in celebrating new accomplishments before asking “how are you in the midst of this upcoming transition?” As a PhD student, I am constantly asked about the progress of my coursework and encouraged to persist through my dissy defense, and seldom asked if I am still feeling fulfilled in my program.
This blog will not answer where I am going or address the status of my PhD but will instead address what is happening in the present – my resignation as program director of student-athlete career development at the University of Maryland.
It was all good just a week ago. Well, more like 3.5 years ago.
I started as the inaugural program director on January 2, 2019. The following day, my department issued gear was stolen from my office. I shook it off as an accident not knowing it would be a forewarning of what to expect during my tenure in the athletics department. Over the last two years, I have been singled out by senior level administrators who have continued to question my ability to serve student-athletes. Senior administrators have denied my promotion and subsequent salary increase for no reason other than “no.” And I’ve been chastised with accusations and comments from administrators with comments that directly contradict Maryland athletics’ values and commitment to inclusivity, community, and justice.
Woah. Dammmnn. WTF?!
Yeah, all the above.
When I first thought about how I wanted to share that I was leaving UMD, I was a little hesitant about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it until I spoke with one of my best friends. Her words were timely and pinpoint accurate when she said, “Black men rarely get the opportunity to share their truth. Share your truth.”
Welcome to Tim’s truth.
Over the last couple years, I’ve been instructed to “shut up and dribble.” And like a dumbass, I listened. I did my job and exceeded expectations semester after semester. The Barry and Mary Gossett Fellows program graduated its 3rd cohort during Spring 2022 and I am proud to declare that every single college athlete in this program secured post-graduate plans prior to graduation. That’s 100% for the statistics folks. I revamped the InTERPship Academy and guided the program to becoming the premier college athlete internship program in NCAA athletics. Not only is it a paid experience, but college athletes participate in weekly professional development programming, author reflection journals, and complete a capstone project that reflects some of their learning over the 8-week experience. And Worldwide Terps?! If you don’t know by now, you betta ask somebody.
And my best ~still~ wasn’t enough.
Not enough to be promoted. Not once.
Not enough to be compensated. Not once.
Not enough to replace and reconcile the anxiety, fear, and depression I experienced clocking into work every day.
Over the last three and half years, I’ve inspired Maryland pride, strengthened the “One Maryland” brand, and increased Maryland athletics visibility at the regional, national, and international level.
I am proud of what I’ve celebrated alongside and co-constructed alongside Maryland college athletes and the Maryland Made staff. But these accomplishments don’t compare to the informal interactions and organic relationships I’ve cultivated with Maryland college athletes and alumni. From teaching athletes how to use the copy machine to introducing them kombucha (LOL!) to making TikToks instead of reviewing application materials, I will never take these moments for granted.
Throughout the Maryland Made career readiness curriculum, I taught college athletes how to conduct thorough research on graduate programs and employers to clarify whether the program/employer was a value add in their career journey. I taught athletes how to see through bullshit and ask thoughtful questions to uncover an organization’s core values, mission, and vision.
It’s time I practice when I teach.
I told another friend I was thinking about resigning from UMD and they replied with “you love your students tho.” My response was just five words.
I love Tim Bryson more.
I slowly lost my joy for the work over the last two academic years. I did not experience peace in a work environment that is hostile, toxic, and chooses not to respond to explicitly expressed needs of Black athletes and staff members. Today I reclaim both. No longer program director of student-athlete career development, I look forward to the next step in my walk with God. At one time, this position with Maryland Made Terps was my dream job.
I am glad I kept dreaming.
Mr. Barry Gossett – Thank you for entrusting me to lead your vision forward. I am confident past, current, and future Gossett Fellows will be prepared for the workforce with a reaction time quicker than what they would’ve had as non-Fellows.
Resa – You already know what it is. You took a risk on the kid from Ohio and together we had the opportunity to start, build, and grow the Maryland Made student-athlete development unit into a national model and internationally recognized program. Just took some courage, a little love, and a lot of fun.
There is not a word count that can capture my time, relationships, and learning at UMD. I came to College Park with the belief anything is possible. I am leaving with proof that impossible does not exist.
Before I bounce, I have three asks for my athletes and colleagues.
- Continue to identify things you are passionate about. Inspire a shared vision dedicated to social change. Then go get it. Walk in YOUR purpose.
- Revolutionize and implement justice-centered systems and structures that support the holistic development of the international college athletes at UMD. Please.
- Be loud about the things you care about. Be seen in every environment they said you couldn’t have access to. And never let anyone or anything dim your light, compromise your peace, or steal your joy. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
So, where are you going!? What about your PhD?!
I am still walking. My Black joy cup is full. I am at elevated level of peace. I am still walking.
“Whatever you do, don’t burn a bridge.” – God is my bridge. And the truth will set us free.
I know I deserve more, I just never said it. – Did I lose you?
Encourage somebody to be great today!
Future Dr. TFB
P.S. I am still dribbling. This time with my megaphone.