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Amatucci resigns at Arundel CC Junior-college coach told team Saturday


Mark Amatucci has resigned as head basketball coach and assistant athletic director at Anne Arundel Community College.

"Mark is pursuing other professional opportunities and felt that he had to make a change at this time," said Anne Arundel CC athletic director Buddy Beardmore, who will coach the Pioneers (10-4) tonight against Columbia Union in Arnold.

Beardmore said he will serve as interim coach until a new head coach is found. Beardmore said assistant coach Mark Healy, who was in Arizona on a business trip, is a likely successor.

Amatucci, who was in his third season at the school, told his team he was resigning after Saturday's 85-71 victory over Harford CC. It capped a week in which three Pioneers players were ruled academically ineligible and a new player was ruled ineligible because he hadn't paid his tuition.

Amatucci, who led Calvert Hall to the mythical national high school title in 1981-82 before coaching seven seasons at Loyola College, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"It was very emotional, because the players really respect him and didn't want to see him leave," Beardmore said. "He was an excellent coach."

Andy Srebroski, a Northeast grad playing his first year at Anne Arundel, said: "It was rough, and we haven't really felt the effect of it. It kind of shocked us. It's all kind of confusing. There doesn't seem to be a base behind it. He said it wasn't working here and he was looking for other opportunities.

"I really enjoyed playing for him, and it's going to be really hard without him."

Amatucci took the Pioneers to a 26-7 record and the Region XX Division II final last season. Anne Arundel went 23-10 in his first season. He took the dual job of coach and assistant AD in August 1989.

Amatucci's resignation capped a difficult week for the coach. An hour before Thursday's game -- a 61-47 loss to Essex CC -- he learned that a new team member could not play because he had failed to pay his tuition for the second semester. Last Monday, the Pioneers lost three players to academic ineligibility. The team already was serving a one-year probation for a violation of academic eligibility.

Starters Keith Thompson (the team's leading scorer at 21.0) and Ralph Purnell, both from Lake Clifton, along with Steve Mackey of Meade, were declared academically ineligible for not meeting National Junior College Athletic Association standards, which require a 1.75 grade-point average and 12 credit hours passed per semester.

After losing the three, Amatucci had said: "There is nothing unusual about this. You just make adjustments and go on."

Jamal Harris, a Southern of Baltimore graduate, was to start against Essex, but, just before game time, Amatucci was told Harris couldn't play.

Almost from his arrival at Anne Arundel, Amatucci has had problems with the school's administration.

Amatucci said Monday: "There were a lot of people around here who didn't want us [he and Beardmore] around. We represented change they didn't want."

AACC president Thomas Florestano said Tuesday: "The basketball program will constantly be watched just like the one at the University of Maryland. Our athletic department is always going to be a source of tension. It's always on the front burner."

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