Cooper open to Towson AD job

September 08, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Kenny Cooper and two business partners are close to obtaining an expansion franchise in the National Professional Soccer League. But if that does not happen, Cooper said he might be interested in the soon-to-be-vacant athletic director's job at Towson State.

Cooper's investment group, which includes his Baltimore-based agent, Tony Agnone, has been conditionally awarded an NPSL franchise in Tampa, Fla. They will learn on Oct. 1 whether their application has been approved. If that happens, Cooper will move south in January. If he does not get the franchise, Cooper said he would consider shifting his focus back home.

"Owning a franchise would be my first priority. Would the Towson State situation be an option? Yes, it would," said Cooper, who just returned from a trip to England. "I've always been open-minded to opportunities. You never close doors."

Cooper has not applied for the Towson State job, which Billy Hunter will retire from in June. But Cooper has been asked by some alumni members to seek the job. An 18-member university committee is meeting for the first time this week to begin its search for Hunter's successor. The job has yet to be advertised.

"Some approaches have been made indirectly. Nobody has directly contacted me," Cooper said. "It's a great university. I have a lot of friends among the alumni. I'm just flattered that my name has been mentioned.

"It would have to be the right situation. I don't know if they're looking for a motivator, a fund-raiser or a businessman. Do they want someone who can sell the program? Do they want to set goals to take the school to another level over three to five years? Do they want more scholarships? Do I have the contacts and the ability to make it successful? Yes, I do.

"It looks like we'll be moving on to another city," added Cooper, who said he will maintain his Baltimore home regardless of where his next career move takes him. "I've raised four children here, built a home here. It's not easy to walk away from 15 years here."

New challenge for Berkman

Three months ago, Jim Berkman reached the pinnacle of his profession when he guided the Salisbury State men's lacrosse team to its first Division III national championship.

This fall, Berkman will get a fresh perspective on coaching when as he also takes over the Sea Gulls' new women's soccer program.

"I've never had to start from the ground before," said Berkman, who last coached soccer from 1985 to 1988 when he was a men's soccer assistant at St. Lawrence before taking over Salisbury State's men's lacrosse program.

Berkman's soccer move coincides with a streamlining that is taking place in the Salisbury State athletic department. With few exceptions, physical education teachers and coaches are no longer splitting their duties, but are working exclusively in the classroom or on the playing field. Numerous coaches are handling two sports. Berkman is the only one who is coaching a men's and a women's team.

The Sea Gulls will play in the Capital Athletic Conference, and Berkman says they will be better than a typical first-year team.

"We've got a 24-girl squad, and 15 or 16 of them can really play," Berkman said. "We dominated both of our scrimmages, and won one of them. I think we're going to be pretty good."

Johnson progressing

Dion Johnson, the Douglass High School (Prince George's County) student who was paralyzed in a football playoff game last fall and has been offered a football scholarship next year by Bowie State, continues his progress.

Johnson began his senior year last week. He attends Douglass three days a week, and spends the other two days in physical therapy.

"I had to do a half a semester of summer school, but I'm all caught up now. It's my last year, and then I'm out of there," said Johnson, who also spent part of his summer working at the Veterans Administration Hospital's Institute for Clinical Research, where he monitored the effects of substance abuse on rats.

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