When Gary Williams announced his retirement in May, the Terps’ search for a new coach wasn’t the only scramble going on. Maryland officials also wanted to find a way to honor their icon.
The obvious solution? Name the floor at Comcast “Gary Williams Floor.” Except it was hardly simple.
The Baltimore Sun reports Williams backers are finding the move difficult because a vocal minority don’t want former coach Lefty Driesell or current women’s coach Brenda Frese overlooked. Driesell built the program into a national power during his tenure from 1969-1986 (not to mention this delightful trivia nugget). Friese won a national title and usually has the Terps among the nation’s best.
The Board of Regents didn’t vote on the measure when it met Friday, though the Sun reports it may just be a matter of time:
Former congressman and Board of Regents member Tom McMillen, who starred in basketball under Driesell, said: “I’ve known Gary since 1963. Clearly Gary needs to be recognized for his service. I think the board just needs to hear all the arguments. I’ve heard pros and cons.”
Among the board’s policies is that no building, campus facility or academic program is be named for “individuals currently employed by the University of Maryland System or the State of Maryland.” Williams remains under contract as a special athletics department assistant.
Williams is deserving of the honor – not many coaches reach that point – but the politics involved are important. Driesell’s obviously been overlooked as a crucial aspect of Maryland’s hoops history. Question is, how to honor Driesell and Williams? You can’t have the court named after both of them. Give Lefty a statue? A building? What?
Whatever they decide, probably better figure how to honor Frese in a few years as well. Save yourself the headache.
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