Maryland athletic director Damon Evans says he didn’t like how Terps’ fan base was blamed by some for Mark Turgeon’s midseason departure from his post as head men’s basketball coach and understands it’s his job as the school’s athletic director to meet the high expectations of the fans moving forward.
Turgeon and Maryland announced in early December that the two sides mutually agreed to part ways. In 10-plus seasons as Terps coach, Turgeon posted a 226-116 record and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament five times in his final seven full seasons (it would have been six times had COVID-19 not forced the cancellation of the 2020 tournament). He won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title during the 2019-20 season as well.
However, the longest tournament run Turgeon had at Maryland came during the 2015-16 season, when the Terps reached the Sweet 16. Some fans weren’t shy about voicing their frustrations about Turgeon, particularly on social media and message boards. The complaints often centered around a lack of postseason success, a methodical style of play, weak nonconference schedules and declining results on the recruiting trail.
After his last game as head coach — a 62-58 loss to Virginia Tech at Xfinity Center Dec. 1 — Turgeon received boos as he walked off the court. After Turgeon left his position, Terps fans were criticized for how they treated Turgeon during his tenure.
What did Evans think about that?
“I didn’t feel good about that. I really appreciate our fans. I appreciate the commitment and the passion and the expectations that our fans have,” Evans said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 6. “I think there are a lot of times when you’re coaching at this level in the sport of basketball, there are going to be times where fans are going to show their displeasure.
“That’s no different here at Maryland than it is anywhere else around the country. I want our fans out there to know that I appreciate them. We appreciate them. I understand their expectations that they have. My job and our job is to meet those expectations.”
Terps fans expect to compete on a national scale more regularly than the program has for much of the past two decades. Maryland has only reached the Sweet 16 twice since winning the national championship in 2002, though there have been a couple of heart-wrenching second-round losses mixed in.
The most successful era of Maryland men’s basketball came under Gary Williams from 1994-2004, when the Terps made 11 straight NCAA Tournaments, went to seven Sweet 16s and two Final Fours and, of course, won a national title.
Evans firmly believes the Terps can contend for national titles again.
“I believe that the University of Maryland can win national championships in basketball,” Evans said. “We’ve done it before. Gary Williams was just remarkable, the run that he had. I believe that we have the recruiting base here in this area, so yes, I want to win national championships in basketball, I want to win Big Ten championships in basketball, and there’s nothing to make me think that we can’t do that here.”
In the months ahead, Evans will be working to hire a coach who can make that happen. There’s been no shortage of speculation regarding who the hire will be. Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard, USC’s Andy Enfield, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl and former Michigan coach John Beilein are among those who have been mentioned as possibilities for the job.
For now, Danny Manning is the interim coach. The Kansas legend led Maryland to a victory against Florida in December, then ranked No. 20 in the country. Manning will work to navigate the Terps through a daunting Big Ten schedule while running everything that goes into a high-major program, including recruiting.
“There’s a lot going on, but I just asked him to continue to build our program, keep the focus on our student-athletes and I know he’ll do so and we’ll continue to recruit as best we can,” Evans said.
Evans explained there are positives and negatives to having so much time prior to being able to hire a coach after the season. The school will have plenty of time to its due diligence on who is really interested in the job, but that also means administrators at other schools have plenty of time to extend their current coaches so they don’t leave for Maryland.
“I see the pros and cons of it, but at the end of the day, I really just feel this: I just feel that we have a great program here that people are going to be really, really attracted to, and we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we get a high-caliber coach to lead us moving forward,” Evans said.
For more from Evans, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics