UMBC doesn't go far for coach

10-year assistant Monroe named to run program in wake of Sullivan's exit

College Basketball

March 24, 2004|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

UMBC, which ousted its men's basketball coach earlier this month after a reported near-revolt by the team, has promoted longtime assistant Randy Monroe to run the program, the school announced yesterday.

"I'm extremely happy about getting the opportunity to be a coach at the Division I level," said Monroe, 41. "I couldn't ask for a better opportunity. ... I think there's a certain amount of trust, and people around here have confidence that I'm capable."

Monroe replaces Tom Sullivan, who resigned after a nine-year tenure that included one league title and the Retrievers' only 20-win season, but also methods of dealing with players that apparently led to the coaching change.

A lengthy, post-game confrontation between Sullivan and a player, according to another player's parent, resulted in the coach being placed on administrative leave March 2. He resigned nine days later.

The players had raised the possibility of refusing to play in the America East tournament if Sullivan wasn't removed, said the parent, who asked not to be named. Monroe became the team's acting head coach and took the Retrievers to the conference tournament, where they lost in the first round.

UMBC athletic director Charles Brown declined to go into details on the change, saying, "Our goal is to look forward and not to dwell on what's happened."

In choosing a new coach, UMBC considered the possibility of looking elsewhere, but was persuaded by timing and an outpouring of support for Monroe, according to Brown.

"Randy gives us the smoothest transition," said Brown, who picked Monroe late last week. "It's not the main reason, but it's a reason. The main factor is that he's a high-quality person."

The Philadelphia native takes over after stops at Cheyney, LaSalle and Vanderbilt. He came to UMBC 10 years ago to work for Earl Hawkins, then remained when Sullivan took over for the 1995-96 season.

Monroe was the top assistant on the team that won a Northeast Conference regular-season championship in 1999. The school has since moved to the America East, where its 2003-04 record was 7-21. Last year, Monroe was one of 27 assistant coaches receiving National Assistant Coach of the Year honors.

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