Mount's Deegan quits as track coach Soccer will receive his full attention now

August 05, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

For 36 years, Jim Deegan has directed two disparate programs at Mount St. Mary's College. Track and field has

gained world acclaim, but soccer has been a model of mediocrity.

The Mount is to announce today that Deegan was resigning half of his coaching duties in Emmitsburg, and it will surprise many to learn that he is relinquishing the reins in track and field and not soccer. His career record in soccer is 209-232-40, and Deegan wants to achieve the same level of success in that sport that he has enjoyed in track and field, where he helped develop 78 All-Americans, 25 NCAA cham pions and the Olympic 1,500-meter winner in 1988, Peter Rono.

"Since we moved to Division I [in 1988], it's become increasingly difficult to head both programs and give each its proper due," Deegan said. "I'll miss track and field very much, but I feel good about how I'm leaving the program."

Mount St. Mary's spokesman Dave Reeder said athletic director Tom Balistrere will name Mike Merritt coordinator of the Mountaineers track and field teams.

Merritt, 35, who ran at Mount St. Joseph High and Hagerstown Junior College before competing for the Mount in the late 1970s, has headed the college's running teams for women.

"His [Deegan's] credentials are second to none, and they are even more impressive when you realize he has had to devote his efforts to two sports for over 36 years," Balistrere said.

Deegan, 59, never has coached a soccer team to a conference title since he came to Mount St. Mary's in 1956 fresh from what is now West Chester (Pa.) University. In the 1980s, the Mountaineers twice won a tournament for the state's Division II and III teams, but last year's team went 3-12-3.

In track and field, conversely, the Mount was long a Division II power, and in 1989, its first year in Division I, Kip Cheruiyot and Rono -- both of Kenya -- went 1-2 in the NCAA 1,500.

Before the Kenyans arrived in the mid-1980s, Mount St. Mary's was known as one of the nation's top schools for the decathlon. Ten of the 25 NCAA titles the Mount earned under Deegan came in the decathlon, and two former Mount decathletes competed in both the 1984 and '88 Olympics.

Bill Motti, who set a national collegiate record in 1985, will compete for France in the 10-event test that begins in Barcelona today.

Many of Deegan's top decathletes hailed from Norway, and several were among his five NCAA post-graduate scholarship recipients.

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