The Maryland Terrapins began to pay the price for success yesterday, when they lost longtime assistant men's basketball coach Billy Hahn, who became the new head coach at La Salle University.
Hahn, who has been an assistant throughout the 12-year tenure of head coach Gary Williams at Maryland, including the past four seasons as the associate head coach, signed a five-year contract that made him the 17th head coach in La Salle's 71-year history.
Hahn was one of the primary recruiters for the Terps, who have made eight consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament and went to the Final Four for the first time in school history this year. Hahn also was the chief opponent scout.
"I'm very happy for Billy. He's been a great part of what's gone on around here," Williams said. "That's what happens when you get to the Final Four sometimes. Opportunities open that otherwise might not have become available."
Hahn, 47, who was in Philadelphia yesterday and could not be reached for comment, played at Maryland for former coach Lefty Driesell from 1972 to 1975, then immediately got into coaching. In his only other stint as head coach, he guided Ohio University from 1986 to 1989 but was fired after producing a 42-46 record. He then joined Williams in College Park.
He even replaced Williams for four games, going 2-2 with a victory at Duke, during the 1995 season, when Williams was stricken with pneumonia.
"We all appreciate what Billy has done at the University of Maryland, both as a player and a coach," said Williams, who has won 242 games at Maryland. "It's a tremendous opportunity to be a head coach. Billy works hard at his profession. He will do a great job at La Salle."
The Explorers, coming off a 12-17 season, including a 5-11, eighth-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference that cost William "Speedy" Morris his job, have not had a winning season since going 14-13 in 1993.
"Billy is considered one of the top assistant coaches in the country," La Salle athletic director Dr. Thomas Brennan said. "He is an outstanding recruiter, a respected teacher and educator, and a winner."
Williams could be in for more Final Four repercussions. Five-year assistant Dave Dickerson could emerge as a candidate for the vacant head coaching job at Old Dominion. Dickerson is familiar with the Colonial Athletic Association, having coached during the 1991-92 season as an assistant at James Madison. Dickerson, a Maryland alum who played for Driesell and Bob Wade, has been an assistant at four schools for more than 11 years.
Williams said he probably will promote 10-year assistant Jimmy Patsos to Hahn's former slot.
NOTES: Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said she expects to meet soon with Don McCartney, the representative for Williams, to begin renegotiating his contract. Williams, who signed a deal in 1998 that runs through 2008, currently earns about $675,000 in guaranteed money that includes base salary, apparel deals and basketball camp revenue. Williams, who earned bonuses this year that pushed his earnings near the $1 million mark, is expected to ask for a deal that averages around $1 million in guarantees. "Don has called and wants to talk about compensation Gary thinks he deserves. I'm open to it. I want Gary to stay at Maryland. We will meet, and he will be taken care of," Yow said. ... The Terps are hoping to round out their incoming recruiting class with the addition of 5-foot-9 point guard Andre Collins, who is attending Hargrave Military Academy. Collins failed to qualify academically at Maryland a year ago, and the school is awaiting his latest SAT results. The Terps also recruited Tony Tate of Marist (N.J.) High School and Terrell Ross of Allegany College.