Hopkins steps down as UMES coach after 17 months, 5-29 mark

December 15, 1991|By John W. Stewart

Robert Hopkins resigned as men's basketball coach at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Friday, ending a 17-month association that began under a cloud and never seemed to get much better.

Assistant coach Robert Wilkerson was appointed interim head coach and was in charge for last night's home game against Liberty University.

"I feel Mr. Hopkins was sincere in his efforts, under the circumstances, and I believe his decision was in the best interest of the program," UMES president William P. Hytche said in a statement.

UMES had a record of 5-23 last year and was 0-6 this season before last night's game.

Hopkins, 56, had been a college or NBA coach for the previous 24 years before coming to the Eastern Shore in July 1990.

At that time, Hopkins brought with him NCAA sanctions imposed after his dismissal as head basketball coach at Grambling State University for major violations.

He was prohibited from off-campus recruiting until Aug. 1, 1991, participating in athletic summer camps, participating in off-campus speaking engagements and coaching in postseason competition after the regular 1990-91 season.

In announcing his hiring, UMES athletic director Hallie Gregory said he thought the infractions were an isolated situation, considering an otherwise impressive coaching background, and, "We have no misgivings about turning over our basketball program to him."

Included in that background were 13 winning records in as many years of college coaching at Alcorn State, Xavier (La.), Southern and Grambling and six selections as a NAIA District Coach of the Year.

On Friday, Gregory said: "I regret the resignation, because Coach Hopkins was a hard worker. I wish that conditions had been more favorable."

The UMES fortunes may have reached their lowest point Wednesday night, when Division III Salisbury State inflicted a 111-74 embarrassment on the Division I team at the Wicomico Civic Center. Hopkins called it "a humiliating experience" and added, "We don't resemble a team right now."

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