Ron DeSouza, who guided Coppin State College from an obscure NAIA school to the NCAA Division I basketball tournament in 1990, has announced his retirement as athletic director after 12 years to accept a position with the NFL as a supervisor of officials.
Calvin W. Burnett, president of Coppin State, said last night he thought DeSouza's retirement was hastened by heart-bypass surgery two years ago that forced him to give up officiating NFL games.
However, DeSouza said last night the bypass surgery had nothing to do with his retirement from Coppin State.
"The NFL job is the main reason I'm leaving," he said. "It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. That's all that needs to be said."
Burnett has named Pete McNeil interim athletic director effective July 3, when DeSouza's retirement becomes effective.
After 10 years of officiating NFL games on the field, DeSouza has spent the last two evaluating college and NFL officials.
Under DeSouza, Coppin State moved from NAIA to NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I status in the 1985-86 season as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Since joining the MEAC, Coppin has won four team and 21 individual championships.
But the biggest athletic moment in the school's history occurred in 1990 when the men's basketball team won the MEAC tournament and went to the NCAA tournament. The Eagles were in the local and national spotlight again in 1991 when they played in the National Invitation Tournament.
"Ron's retirement caught me off guard," said Burnett. "I knew Ron was worried about his health and there was a lot of pressure in his job. I'm sure it was a combination of the bypass surgery and the job opportunity he had.
"He built our athletic department and as director of capital projects for our school the past several years, he was responsible for every single brick in all the buildings on campus except one."
Burnett has been at the school 22 years and DeSouza has 21 years service at Coppin after arriving in 1971 as director of admissions and records. DeSouza also was vice president for student affairs and vice president for administration before moving on to athletic director and director of capital projects.