Zimmerman, UMBC shooting for top AD Brown pledges support for program

August 05, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Dick Watts never had all the coaching and recruiting tools he needed to succeed. Don Zimmerman says he eventually will -- enough to allow him to build UMBC lacrosse into a Division I contender.

Athletic director Charlie Brown made that pledge yesterday in introducing Zimmerman at a news conference as UMBC's new lacrosse coach. He succeeds Watts, who resigned two months ago after 23 seasons. Zimmerman signed a multiyear contract at an undisclosed salary.

"We want to be competitive in Division I," Brown said. "We hired Zim to do it. We have to give him help, and we will eventually, although we have no timetable."

Watts didn't have a full-time assistant, which is vital to recruiting. He said he had 8.4 scholarships, well under the NCAA maximum of 12.6. There was no money in the budget for him to recruit out of state, especially in lacrosse-rich New York.

Watts won the Division II title in 1980, but went nine straight seasons in Division I without a winning record until finishing 9-6 in 1991 and a 10-5 in '92, when the Retrievers made it into the top 20. They were 6-8 last season.

Brown admits he'll have to juggle the budget to accommodate Zimmerman. Watts, who turns 65 this month, was paid only $7,800 to coach lacrosse, earning most of his salary as a tenured assistant professor of physical education. He will continue to teach.

"I pledged to Zim that he'll have a full-time assistant by the 1995 season if finances hold," Brown said. "For now he'll have two part-time assistants.

"Another goal is to reach the NCAA maximum of 12.6 scholarships.

"We also have to give him a better recruiting budget, so we can expand out of state to Virginia, Long Island and the rest of New York. We have to provide the money to bring prospects in for campus visits."

Zimmerman is used to working in big-time lacrosse environments. He was an assistant at Loyola and North Carolina and head coach at Johns Hopkins, where he won three NCAA championships in seven years. He said he's comfortable with Brown's stated commitment.

"It's workable," Zimmerman said. "Charlie convinced me the commitment is here."

Like Watts, Zimmerman will teach physical eduction classes, probably three hours a week. He did at Hopkins, too, and considered the racquetball class "a nice break" in the routine.

About a dozen UMBC players turned out for yesterday's news conference, including Jamie Batley, a senior midfielder from Canada. Batley was a member of the seven-man search committee that selected Zimmerman over finalists such as Washington College coach Terry Corcoran and Army assistant Richie Meade.

"Mainly, Coach Zimmerman brings Division I experience," Batley said. "He's a winner. He's won at this level before."

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