At Mount St. Mary's, Deegan hardly slowed by Father Time

Track, cross country teams latest job for longtime coach

State notebook

February 25, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

At Mount St. Mary's, Jim Deegan is as timeless as men's basketball coach Jim Phelan.

Deegan, in his 44th year at the school, is in charge of the men's and women's track and field and cross country teams on an interim basis. The women earned a second-place finish at the Northeast Conference indoor meet last weekend.

When Mike Merritt left in January to go to Howard, Mount St. Mary's looked to Deegan, who had agreed to be an assistant to Merritt when the latter took over both programs in 1993.

Deegan, 66, thought it was too much for one person. "I was almost out of coaching, but I couldn't leave him out there naked," he said.

So, the guy who also coached the men's soccer team for 38 years is now in the same position he helped his protege avoid.

But Deegan is looking forward to when the school hires a new coach.

"Until it does, I'm doing 12-hour days," he said. "Fortunately, I don't like to eat until eight at night, so it's no big deal."

That's nothing new for the coach, who came to Emmitsburg from West Chester (Pa.) College to coach track, cross country and soccer, hoping to teach math if the sports didn't work out.

During the late 1950s, he was coaching all three sports, teaching full time at the Mount and its then-sister school, St. Joseph's, working on his master's degree at Western Maryland College, and raising a family. At that point, he and his wife, Marge, had four of their five children.

"When I brought my kids up to soccer practice at night, I sometimes forgot them," Deegan said.

More coaches

It's that time again, when the relatively high salaries of Division I men's basketball coaches must be justified. That, of course, is when job security becomes an issue.

Two who appear at risk are Dino Gaudio of Loyola (7-18) and Chris Fuller at Morgan State (4-20), both guiding teams that have fallen short of even the most modest projections.

Fuller pondered his future during a post-game interview on Jan. 29.

"I don't know if I'll be around to see this young team fulfill its potential," he said, then recanted within two days.

Said Gaudio: "There's never been a question. My contract extends beyond this season."

The Greyhounds began the season with promise. A title at the Battle of Baltimore seemed to preview a contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. But they came clunking down the stretch, just as they did last season.

Like Gaudio, Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan said the coach should return after this season.

Though the team was rarely precise with Jason Rowe in the lineup, having its best player expelled didn't help, nor did a severe knee injury to another of its best players, Clifford Strong.

Fuller should be safe as well. One factor is gratitude that this campaign follows Morgan's first .500 record in 20 years.

Tickets for tomorrow night's Coppin-Morgan doubleheader (women at 5, men at 8) will be available from noon to 6 p.m. today in the Coppin Center lobby.

General admission tickets are $8, and student tickets are $5.

Improbable

They don't come any more improbable than Goucher's 68-59 win over Catholic on Wednesday night.

The Gophers (13-12), who had gone 14 straight games with at least one starter out with an injury, went to Washington and defeated Division III's No. 5 team for the second time this season.

Besides losing to Goucher, which now faces Marymount tomorrow night for the Capital Athletic Conference tournament title and an NCAA tournament berth -- Catholic (22-5) had lost only to Division I teams American and Princeton.

With the injuries, "the chemistry problems have been real tough," said Goucher coach Leonard Trevino after picking up his 150th win.

"But it seems like we've been doing a real good job in the last week."

Miscellaneous

Coppin State and Morgan State combined to earn 63 All-Academic awards from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last week. Coppin State middle distance runner Beryl Harris led the Eagles with a 4.0 grade-point average in computer science, while Morgan long jumper Jean Cummings topped the Bears with a 3.86 GPA in biology. Harris will run in the MEAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, scheduled today and tomorrow at Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.

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