It’s as strange as you think it is.

During the last few days, there has been a sudden uproar of college basketball personalities coming to the defense of former Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and coming after the Maryland fan base with a suggestion that the ex-coach has been mistreated.

So … I guess we can scratch Mark Few off the list then?

There are a few things to unpack here. I’ll start with this. I absolutely do not believe that Mark Turgeon was treated in a way that was even remotely unfair in his final days at Maryland or any time leading up to it. Early in his tenure as coach, I sensed there might be an uneasy fit when Turgeon emotionally said that his son wouldn’t attend a game because the previous week he had heard that his “daddy couldn’t coach” from some fans.

As a father, his emotion remains understandable. But I have always wondered if he truly believed that merely being the coach of a team should make him an unimpeachable figure. That, of course, was never going to happen here. Nor have I sensed it happening at other power programs. Or if we’re being frank, anywhere at all. Division III basketball coaches are subject to criticism from the people who care about the team’s results.

That’s what makes all of this so weird. There’s just no available evidence that suggests Turgeon received an amount of criticism that would in some way rise to the level of “abuse.” Fans definitely said a number of mean things online about him. There was some booing at some games. That is neither extreme nor is it unlike other power programs. I’ve sat courtside at Cameron Indoor Stadium on multiple occasions. There are truly AWFUL things that are said by the fans in attendance.

People can be mean. I’m going to come back to that in a second. But attempts to single out Maryland fans as being in some way an abusive fan base toward their coach are, at best, self-serving exaggerations (due to a friendship with Turgeon perhaps) and at worst, full-on fabrications.

We err, however, in suggesting that Mark Turgeon “quit” as Maryland coach in response to such claims. That’s not true … well, not fully. I’ve spoken to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation and it really is important that we don’t attempt to whitewash the “mutual” part of this mutual agreement. Maryland was not going to fire Turgeon midseason. But that doesn’t mean the administration supported him as coach, either. It was a mutual agreement. I understand that it’s easier to say Turgeon “quit” to vilify him, it’s just not fully true.

(You’re probably not concerned about the semantics here because you, one, feel as though you can make a compelling argument that anything that wasn’t a firing really can qualify as quitting, or two, supported Maryland’s side of the “mutual decision” anyway. But we should be as truthful as possible when we can.)

On the whole, the Maryland fan base does not deserve this specifically targeted criticism.

That said, I think we should do a better job of policing those people who are truly awful. I have heard nothing that suggests that Mark Turgeon’s family specifically was stalked in their private life but if they were, that’s utterly and completely shameful and the people involved should be prosecuted. Such actions should never be defended.

While not subject to prosecution, we should do a better job of calling out those who make this personal in any way. There are human beings who tweet at athletes’ and coaches’ family members. Lacie DeCosta (wife of Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta) and Breona Humphrey (sister of Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey) have both spoken about this of late.

While there is little doubt that some of the humans who make these decisions are probably a bit deranged in general, the greater point should constantly be made. If you are someone who has ever attempted to reach out to a sports figure’s family members to vent your frustration (or worse), you honestly should seek help.

Keeping family members of sports figures off limits is an institution that should stand eternally.

(Which isn’t to say you couldn’t tell Lacie DeCosta that you think she’s wrong about, say, a food take she offers on Twitter. That’s fine! But imagine taking time out of your day to tweet the wife of the general manager to tell her that her husband should fire his offensive coordinator. There are so many other ways to spend your day! Have you seen TikTok? Lots happening on that whole TikTok.)

The good news about this strange reaction to the Mark Turgeon departure is that it probably WON’T be a factor in Maryland’s coaching search. It seems highly unlikely a smattering of boos or some gross Facebook comments would be the reason why a coach would turn down the job. In fact, I can say with direct knowledge that at least one potential candidate is completely unconcerned. Perhaps Turgeon’s relationship with the administration might give someone pause. The administration will have its chance to pitch candidates on why such a concern wouldn’t be an issue for a different coach.

There are reasons a desirable candidate might not think as highly of Maryland’s opening as you’d like him to, however. Chief among them is the lack of a basketball-specific practice facility. It is easy to say that Maryland is truly a basketball school. It is harder to prove that it is when you consider the actual evidence. One win against Florida does not suddenly a basketball school make.

The school might need to step up to prove their commitment to the next coach … or the fan base might have to step back just slightly in terms of reasonable expectations for this search.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Glenn Clark

See all posts by Glenn Clark. Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter at @glennclarkradio