Randy Monroe

Randy Monroe (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 20, 2008)

Randy Monroe was looking forward all spring and summer to getting back on the court with his UMBC men’s basketball team. The Retrievers, coming off three consecutive single-digit-win seasons, had much to prove in 2012-13, but the veteran coach said in August that he was “very confident and optimistic about this year’s bunch.”

But “a couple weeks” ago, Monroe said he started thinking about his future and what was best for UMBC so that his players could “move forward.” After having several discussions with UMBC athletic director Charles Brown, Monroe officially resigned his position Wednesday.

“I just felt that it was time for me to make a move and go in another direction,” Monroe said Thursday. “Sometimes you stay in a place too long. Being at UMBC for 19 years, there are some terrific people there, trust me. Without question, I had some really good years there, too. You just feel at some point at a time in your life that it’s time to move on. It’s something I had to do. You have to be true and fair to yourself, and be fair to others around here. It was definitely time to go.”

Monroe, who started as an assistant with the Retrievers in 1994 before being elevated to head coach in 2004, said he is “happy” and “at peace” with his decision to walk away from UMBC despite having two years left on his contract. When he first approached Brown, the longtime UMBC athletic director told Monroe to “take some time and think about it.”

“That’s exactly what I did,” Monroe said. “Obviously, it was a difficult decision. Once again, as a coach, you have to make difficult decisions. When you’re in a position of leadership, you have to make difficult decisions. That’s what it comes down to. I’m a firm believer in that, too. If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything. I am a firm believer in that. I felt it was the time to make the move.”

The highlight of Monroe’s UMBC tenure came during the 2007-08 season, when the Retrievers won the America East tournament championship and participated in the first NCAA tournament in the program’s history. But it was all downhill after that in Catonsville, as UMBC went 28-94 over the past four seasons.

Monroe, in an August interview with The Sun, said he was “really excited about coaching” a Retrievers squad that returns its top three scorers – junior forward Chase Plummer, senior guard Ryan Cook (Pallotti) and senior guard Brian Neller – and is set to welcome touted center Brett Roseboro, a St. Bonaventure transfer, and two impact freshmen in forward Malik Garner and guard Aaron Morgan to the roster.

“I will certainly wish those young men the best of luck, from the freshmen on up to the seniors,” Monroe said. “They’re a talented group of young men. They have a chance to be good. ... Obviously, I’ll be wishing them the best of luck from afar. UMBC men’s basketball will always have a special place in my heart. I know that [interim head coach] Aki Thomas and [assistants] Jay Greene and Walt Fuller and Brian Johnson will do an excellent job of continuing the course of the program.”

Monroe said he’s looking forward to having some time off, but he doesn’t plan to stay away from the game for long.

“Coaching basketball doesn’t define who I am as an individual. There are other things I can do with my life,” Monroe said. “Obviously, I would like to continue coaching right now. I’m definitely going to pursue that. There will be other opportunities – there’s no question about that. I just have to be patient and wait and see.

“I’m going to be around, watching other teams practice. I’ve already been invited to see other teams practice and perform. I’m excited about getting the opportunity to do that. I’m looking forward to this situation right here. I think it’ll be a step in the right direction for me.”

mbracken@baltsun.com

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