UMBC puts Sullivan on indefinite paid leave

Reason not given

Monroe runs team in tourney loss

March 06, 2004|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

Tom Sullivan, the head basketball coach at UMBC for nine years, has been put on indefinite paid administrative leave for an undisclosed reason.

His replacement, assistant coach Randy Monroe, ran practice this week and coached the Retrievers last night in their loss to Stony Brook in the opening round of the America East tournament.

Monroe said he spoke with UMBC athletic director Charles Brown on Monday and was named interim coach for the remainder of the season, which ended with last night's 65-59 loss. He would not explain why Sullivan was removed.

"It's a university matter and a private situation. Let's leave it at that," Monroe said.

UMBC sports information director Steve Levy would not elaborate on the nature of the occurrence, but said Sullivan's departure was not health-related.

Several sources described Sullivan as a hot-tempered coach, but Levy denied that his removal stemmed from an altercation with players. The Associated Press reported that at least several team members had threatened a walkout.

"Nothing like that has come to our attention," Levy said.

"This is a private personnel issue and, hopefully, not a protracted situation. Will [Sullivan] come back? Right now, we don't know."

Sullivan did not return calls made to his home or office.

UMBC senior guard Kareem Washington said the team handled the coaching change well despite the defeat last night. "I think that had nothing to do with us on the court. That happened off the court. On the court, everybody has to be focused and ready to play."

Said to be tough-minded, stubborn and frank, Sullivan, 53, led UMBC on an uneven course. He started off 10-44 at the Catonsville school and peaked at 20-9 in 2002. The Retrievers are 106-145 under Sullivan.

The Retrievers finished 7-21 this season.

UMBC has played in three conferences during his tenure. Sullivan was named Coach of the Year in two of them.

A native New Yorker, he was a standout at Fordham University, where he studied philosophy and won honors as the Big Apple's outstanding college player in 1972. Drafted by the New York Knicks, he played basketball in Europe for three years, then turned to coaching.

He ran programs at New Hampshire College and Manhattan College before joining Seton Hall in 1987 as an assistant coach under P.J. Carlesimo. Sullivan was there two years later, when Seton Hall reached the NCAA finals.

Sullivan's current contract expires in 2007.

Matt Kalman contributed to this article.

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