Terps fill vacant post quickly

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. --- Before he accepted the offer to become Maryland basketball coach, Mark Turgeon needed to get the lowdown on the job from Gary Williams.

Mark Turgeon: Texas A&M coach took the Maryland job less than a week after Gary Williams decided to retire after 22 years at the university.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Mark Turgeon: Texas A&M coach took the Maryland job less than a week after Gary Williams decided to retire after 22 years at the university.

Williams held the post for 22 years before retiring, and Turgeon was poised to become his successor. Working at a school with a great basketball tradition was very appealing to Turgeon, who had spurned several other opportunities to move during his four years at Texas A&M.

After speaking at length with Williams on Sunday night, Turgeon knew it was time to leave College Station for College Park -- even if it meant replacing an iconic coach.

"If I was apprehensive, I wouldn't be standing here," Turgeon said at his formal introduction Wednesday. "I had a great conversation with Gary, and he made me feel comfortable. I know Gary's not going to try to sabotage Maryland basketball."

The comment drew a roar of laughter in a room filled with Maryland alumni, former players and booster club members.

Last month, former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said Williams "tried to sabotage" her search for a new basketball coach at North Carolina State.

Current Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson was beaming about the results of his quick and efficient quest to replace Williams, who announced his retirement late last week.

"It's a great day to be a Terp," Anderson declared.

Turgeon, 46, compiled a 97-40 record at Texas A&M and took the team to the NCAA Rournament in each of his four seasons at the school. He learned last Thursday that he might be a candidate for the Maryland job, but that didn't stop him from leaving on a camping trip Friday.

Turgeon couldn't get cell reception until Sunday, and that's when Anderson called to set up a meeting in a Pittsburgh hotel. With Anderson in jeans and a scruffy Turgeon wearing a Kansas City Chiefs shirt over his Texas A&M shirt, the two talked.

Turgeon was as an assistant at Kansas under Larry Brown and Roy Williams, then experienced success at Jacksonville State, Wichita State and Texas A&M.

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