COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland announced last night that it's men's basketball program will not be penalized further by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for two secondary infractions committed in the past 15 months by members of the coaching staff.
The NCAA Committee on infractions, which reviewed Maryland's case at a hearing last month in Hilton Head, S.C., decided that the penalty imposed on the team by athletic director Andy Geiger would suffice. Geiger pushed back the start of practice from Oct. 15 to Oct. 20.
Terrapins coach Gary Williams and members of his coaching staff were charged last January with observing a number of informal workouts before the 1989-90 season. It was also charged that a couple of incoming players were given athletic gear in which to work out this summer, before going on scholarship. The latter infraction occured while Williams was out of the country coaching an Atlantic Coast Conference All-Star team.
"It's good news, but it's also time to move forward in the rebuilding of the men's basketball program at the university," Geiger said in a statement released last night. "All concerned have been given the message of knowing and complying with the rules and regulations."
University President William E. Kirwan said in a statement that, according to NCAA enforcement chief David Berst, Geiger's swift action in dealing with the matter led to the decision by the infractions committee. Geiger also reprimanded Williams and members of his staff involved in the secondary infractions.
"The leadership displayed by athletic director Andy Geiger was critical to the result," Kirwan said in a statement.
Williams was relieved that this situation had been resolved. "I'm naturally very happy it's finally over," he said last night. "What I've said all along took place. Missing five days of practice was certainly sufficient for what happened. I'm happy."
Mark Jones, a director of enforcement for the NCAA, declined to comment on yesterday's decision, but said that the committee had been discussing the case since last February, when university officials appeared at a hearing to talk about the violations that took place during the three-year tenure of former coach Bob Wade.
Those violations -- 18 overall, nearly all considered major by the NCAA -- resulted in Maryland's being placed on three years' probation. The Terps were banned from post-season competition for two seasons and from live television appearances this season. An appeal in August was unsuccessful.
"The committee left itself a lot of leeway on this one." said Jones, who was in charge of the NCAA investigation into Maryland and Wade. "They didn't want to put themselves in a box."
Under NCAA guidelines, Maryland's current penalty could have been extended because of the secondary infraction. It could also have been fined, from $500 to $5,000 for each infraction, and its scholarship limit could have been reduced. The Terps are at 13 scholarships, two under the allowed number, as a result of the terms of the probation.
"In recruiting, schools have been telling kids that we were going to get another four years," said Williams. "I'm disappointed that it's dragged on this long. It put a lot of pressure on the coaching staff. I just hope that all the coaches who never watched their players work out before practice give me a call tomorrow. I'm sure my phone won't be ringing off the hook."