Soap opera

Board members want end to UM infighting

January 29, 2009|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,

Two members of the state university system's Board of Regents yesterday urged an end to the "unhealthy" infighting between Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams and athletic department managers over two former recruits.

One board member called the public bickering a "fiasco." Another said flatly, "It just needs to stop."

"This stuff has got to get settled because it's hurting everybody," said Tom McMillen, a regent who served in Congress after playing basketball at Maryland and in the NBA. "It's very unhealthy to see these kinds of struggles get into the paper," said McMillen, who frequently attends Terrapins games.

The verbal war over forward Gus Gilchrist and guard Tyree Evans - who were to have been key components of Maryland's recently struggling team - has become a spectacle, attracting more national interest than the team's performance.

The latest volleys began when Williams was asked about the two recruits Monday and replied: "It wasn't my fault that they're not here. That was somebody else's call." Kathleen Worthington, a senior associate athletic director, called reporters the next day to rebut Williams' claim.

On Tuesday night, Williams - standing in Maryland's wood-paneled locker room after the Terps' loss to Boston College - seemed perplexed why Worthington had reached out to the media.

"Were you summoned to the athletic director's office?" Williams asked two reporters as other media members rushed to listen to the coach. "Why would they call you? What was the reason? Because of what was in the paper today?"

Williams said he didn't understand why athletic director Debbie Yow wasn't handling the matter instead of Worthington, who he said "has never won a national championship" as Williams did in 2002.

"Why doesn't the athletic director do that? Does that appear strange?" he said.

Yow is in North Carolina to attend the funeral of her sister, former North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow.

The recruitment of Evans and Gilchrist had complications.

Evans, a former community college player now with Kent State, had a series of criminal offenses in his past.

Gilchrist was worried he would lose a semester of eligibility under Atlantic Coast Conference rules. He now plays for South Florida.

Maryland said yesterday that it considered the dispute over each player's recruitment over.

"We consider the matter closed, and we look forward to the rest of the season," said Brian Ullmann, a senior associate athletic director.

Dwight Pettit, a regent and Baltimore attorney, said he hopes that is so. "Hopefully, we learn something out of this fiasco," Pettit said.

Dr. C.D. Mote Jr., Maryland's president, could not be reached. Milree Williams, a university public affairs specialist, said he assumed Mote would not want to be interviewed on the subject.

McMillen said the dispute affects recruiting.

"It just needs to stop," he said. "If I saw that kind of infighting, it wouldn't be conducive to me wanting to go to school there. You want a happy family."

Many fans writing to's Tracking the Terps blog expressed dismay about how the squabble looked.

"Gary looks like a hothead with a who-me attitude and the department looks like an unsupportive band of backstabbers," one fan wrote.

Wrote another: "Whatever the truth is, this situation should not become a public tennis match."

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