There will be no more rumors along the recruiting trail: Gary Williams will be staying on as basketball coach at the University of Maryland for a while.
Williams, a former Terrapins captain and 1968 graduate who came back to College Park two years ago, has signed a new five-year contract.
"The best thing about this is it shows everyone that I'm going to be here," Williams said yesterday from his office. "It shows that the school has confidence in me, that we're doing the right thing. It's good for both sides."
Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it is believed to be similar in worth to the deal he signed when he came from Ohio Statein 1989. Williams, whose base salary from the university is around $125,000, reportedly was making $300,000 a year with the help of a television and radio show, a summer camp and a contract with Nike.
Williams said that the contract contained no buyout or escape clause in case he took another job, or was fired. The biggest difference in this contract is a rollover clause that
adds a year after each season ends. Williams' old contract added two years after the fourth season.
"It's a pretty straight-up contract," said Williams, 46. "I get paid well by the university, but it's basically the security of the contract that coaches are looking for. Once I signed a contract, I never think about it. If I'm not doing the job, I won't be around."
Williams, who inherited a team under investigation by the NCAA, has done an admirable coaching job in his first two seasons. The Terrapins went 19-14 and to the NIT in 1989-90 and, after being placed on three-years' probation by the NCAA, went 16-12 despite the unexpected loss of several key players last season.
His tenure has not been without controversy. There was the disclosure of a secondary NCAA infraction for watching informal workouts prior to his first season, for which the Terps were banned by athletic director Andy Geiger from practicing the first five days of last year. There was a drunken-driving charge in May 1990.
But Geiger yesterday expressed his confidence in Williams, as well as his commitment to the future. "This is a tremendous commitmenton the part of Gary Williams," Geiger said in a prepared statement. "Gary's return here has been special for all us. He has shown himself to be one of the very best coaches in basketball. I am confident in the man and in his success."
There had been speculation that Williams was interested in leaving, first because of the unexpectedly, harsh probation and, more recently, after two blue-chip recruits were denied admission to the university for academic reasons.
But Williams, who saw his name linked to the still unfilled opening at the University of South Carolina, said he has no intentions of leaving his alma mater. It is a message he hopes to convey to the players Maryland, and others, are recruiting.
"It [the new contract] takes away some of the things our competitors have been saying about me leaving," he said. "The only reason I felt any rush to get it done was for recruiting. There was really no other reason."