Mount gives in to Phelan School won't force retirement in '93

November 03, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Jim Phelan and the president of Mount St. Mary's still have some differences to reconcile, but the longtime basketball coach will continue to direct the Mountaineers at least through the 1993-94 season.

Robert Wickenheiser, the president of Mount St. Mary's, last week asked Phelan to step down at the end of the 1992-93 season, but the coach refused, the Frederick News-Post reported yesterday. Yesterday, Wickenheiser relented and wrote Phelan a letter pledging his support through 1993-94, which would be his 40th season at the Emmitsburg college.

"At no time am I going to be a lame-duck coach," Phelan said. "I've got a long-term contract. For the moment, there have been some misunderstandings, but we will get those resolved."

With a 693-350 record in 38 seasons, Phelan, 63, is third among active college coaches in victories, trailing only Winston-Salem's Clarence Gaines and North Carolina's Dean Smith. His past two teams have gone 8-19 and 6-22. Last season's record was the worst by a Phelan-coached team, and the past two seasons were Phelan's worst consecutive records.

"Look, at the end of last season, I told our coaching staff that

we've got two more years to turn this around," Phelan said. "If it didn't [turn around], I would be the first one to look at my status. I'm sure the situation will be re-evaluated at that point in time [1994]."

Phelan is under contract until age 70, but Wickenheiser said: "There's a clause that if either one of us felt it was time to make a move, it was just a matter of saying that.

"For Jim's sake, I told him that, 'When you get 700 wins, you might want to do something else for the Mount without necessarily coaching.' I suggested that to him a couple of years ago."

Wickenheiser reiterated that in a letter to Phelan last week, but the coach refused to resign. Over the weekend, many Phelan supporters let Wickenheiser know that they wanted him to keep coaching after the 1992-93 season.

"When I wrote to Jim last week, I emphasized him getting to 700 wins," Wickenheiser said. "He emphasized getting to 40 years coaching and age 65. When I wrote back to him today [yesterday], I told him, 'I appreciate your wanting to continue to age 65, and I concur with your feelings.' "

Phelan took Mount St. Mary's to the NCAA College Division title in 1962, and the Division II championship game in 1981. In the Mountaineers' last nine years in Division II, they went 209-60. Since moving to Division I, however, they have had one winning record in four seasons.

Phelan's record

%Season .... W .. L .. Pct.

1954-55 .. 23 .. 4 .. .852

1955-56 .. 20 .. 9 .. .690

1956-57 .. 27 .. 5 .. .844

1957-58 .. 16 .. 9 .. .640

1958-59 .. 15 .. 12 .. .556

1959-60 .. 19 .. 6 .. .760

1960-61 .. 26 .. 5 .. .839

1961-62 .. 24 .. 6 .. .800

1962-63 .. 13 .. 12 .. .520

1963-64 .. 18 .. 7 .. .720

1964-65 .. 20 .. 5 .. .800

1965-66 .. 21 .. 6 .. .778

1966-67 .. 18 .. 9 .. .667

1967-68 .. 23 .. 4 .. .852

1968-69 .. 20 .. 8 .. .714

1969-70 .. 20 .. 6 .. .764

1970-71 .. 10 .. 14 .. .417

1971-72 .. 6 .. 17 .. .260

1972-73 .. 15 .. 10 .. .600

1973-74 .. 17 .. 10 .. .630

1974-75 .. 14 .. 11 .. .583

1975-76 .. 16 .. 12 .. .571

1976-77 .. 9 .. 18 .. .333

1977-78 .. 16 .. 11 .. .593

1978-79 .. 18 .. 10 .. .643

1979-80 .. 22 .. 7 .. .759

1980-81 .. 28 .. 3 .. .903

1981-82 .. 20 .. 8 .. .714

1982-83 .. 18 .. 9 .. .667

1983-84 .. 21 .. 9 .. .700

1984-85 .. 28 .. 5 .. .848

1985-86 .. 26 .. 4 .. .866

1986-87 .. 26 .. 5 .. .839

1987-88 .. 20 .. 8 .. .714

1988-89 .. 12 .. 15 .. .444

1989-90 .. 16 .. 12 .. .571

1990-91 .. 8 .. 19 .. .296

1991-92 .. 6 .. 22 .. .214

39 years.. 693 ..350 .. .664

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