Sullivan steps down at UMBC

School paper: Coach made `discriminatory comments'

March 12, 2004|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

Tom Sullivan, the men's basketball coach at UMBC, resigned yesterday, 10 days after the university had placed him on paid administrative leave.

Sullivan, 53, stepped down the day after an article appeared in The Retriever Weekly, the campus newspaper, alleging that the coach had made "discriminatory comments" to his players. University officials would not confirm those allegations yesterday.

Kathy Zerrlaut, associate athletic director for compliance at the Catonsville school, would not comment on the resignation except to say that "there have been no [NCAA] rules violations committed."

A prepared statement from the school about Sullivan's departure did not mention the turmoil surrounding the Division I basketball program.

The coach did not accompany the team last week to the America East tournament, where the Retrievers (7-21) ended their season in a first-round loss under assistant coach Randy Monroe.

"Tom Sullivan provided UMBC basketball with many fine moments during his tenure here," athletic director Charles Brown said in the news release. "We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Brown had been instrumental in hiring Sullivan nine years ago and in cobbling together a controversial contract extension in July 2002 that would have kept him at the school through 2007.

In nine seasons under Sullivan, the Retrievers won 106 games and lost 145. Their best season was 20-9 in 2001-02.

The coach did not return calls made to his home or office.

"I want to thank the university for affording me the opportunity to have coached so many fine student-athletes," Sullivan said in the statement. "It has been a very challenging experience. I hope I leave my players with skills that will serve them well as they go through life."

A native New Yorker, Sullivan arrived at UMBC from Seton Hall, where he served as an assistant coach during that school's run to the NCAA championship game in 1989.

Described as fiery and hard-nosed, he also ran basketball programs at New Hampshire College and Manhattan College. His 19-year record as a head coach is 260-270.

Steve Levy, UMBC's sports information director, said the university will decide next week on a strategy to hire a new coach.

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