Looking relaxed and refreshed from the college basketball wars, Maryland coach Gary Williams paused from holding court on the NBA draft long enough to say that he likes it here very much and plans to stay for a while.
The school announced yesterday that he had signed a new five-year contract that replaces the five-year deal Williams got when he was hired two years ago.
Though terms were not disclosed, athletic director Andy Geiger said the new contract is much like the old one, which reportedly paid Williams about $400,000 per year, with incentives and other bonuses, with the key proviso that it rolls over after each season, meaning that it will always have five years to run.
The other key difference, according to Geiger, is that the new pact keeps the popular Williams in College Park.
"What we're trying to say is we're solid," said Geiger. "We're in it for a fairly long pull."
Williams said that contrary to published and broadcast rumors, BTC did not talk with officials from South Carolina regarding their coaching vacancy, which opened after George Felton was fired in May.
And while discussions over an extension had been taking place since before the season ended in March, Geiger was eager to get Williams signed to take his name off the list of coaches seeking employment.
"The rumor mills have been grinding away," said Geiger. "He's not going anywhere. He's not going to South Carolina and he's not going any other place where a job might open up."
Williams also discounted reports that he was upset with Maryland admissions officials over the school's refusal to admit two top recruits, forwards Donyell Marshall and Lawrence Moten, because they did not meet university admissions standards, which are higher than NCAA requirements.
"In another year, we'll have proved that we can get our kids to do what they're supposed to do," said Williams. "Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to do that."
"I think that he and I and the university are on the same page," said Geiger. "That doesn't mean that we're always going to agree. It means that all of us are striving to have a high quality basketball program within the context of the university's goals."
In another development, Geiger said the athletic department's projected deficit for the fiscal year ending next week will be just under $700,000, almost $2 million less than had been projected last year, thanks in part to additional revenues from the Atlantic Coast Conference's distribution of football bowl monies and NCAA tournament receipts.
"I see signs of progress," said Geiger.