Governor to participate in Md.-Navy coin toss today

Ehrlich accepts invitation to join Senate president, House leader in ceremony

September 03, 2005|By Jennifer Skalka | Jennifer Skalka,SUN STAFF

In an apparent change of heart, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has accepted an invitation to participate in a coin toss at the start of today's football game between the University of Maryland and the Naval Academy.

A University of Maryland spokesman said on Thursday that Ehrlich, a Republican, had declined an invitation to join House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller representing the Terrapins at the pregame ceremony. The governor would instead make an appearance during halftime festivities, the school official said.

Busch and Miller, both Democrats, had accepted, but Ehrlich wanted other politicians to join him on the field.

"The back-and-forth about it was we were approached about doing it and suggested that [former] governors [Marvin] Mandel and [William Donald] Schaefer do the coin toss," Greg Massoni, an Ehrlich spokesman, said yesterday. "When it was decided that that was not going to happen, we then went ahead with the coin toss. It's truly nothing more than that."

Massoni chided a University of Maryland athletics department official for telling a reporter that the governor had turned down the invitation.

"We were in discussions with them throughout the whole event," Massoni said. "No decision was made."

Michael Lipitz, a senior associate athletics director for the university, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I think that it's appropriate for all of us to participate," Busch said yesterday. "This is about the University of Maryland and the Naval Academy. It's not about Mike Busch or Mike Miller or Bob Ehrlich. Everyone should be magnanimous enough to celebrate this great event."

Busch and Ehrlich have clashed over legalizing slot machines, with the governor blaming Busch for thwarting his top legislative initiative and vowing to unseat him in next year's election.

Today's game before a sold-out crowd at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore marks the first time that Maryland and Navy have faced off in 40 years. Once fierce rivals, the schools stopped playing each other in the 1960s after a Maryland football player made an obscene gesture to Navy fans.

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