Earl Hawkins' five-year tenure as UMBC basketball coach has been punctuated with transition -- from independent Division I program to the East Coast Conference, from the troubled ECC to the Big South Conference.
Now, Charles Brown, UMBC's director of athletics, is opting for stability over change.
Brown announced yesterday that Hawkins has been given a two-year contract extension after spending a season in limbo.
"I wanted to wait until the whole season was done before I passed judgment on the program," Brown said. "It was not like I was wavering in any way during the course of the year. I had to see the full picture. The decision was clear to me."
A strong finish in the Retrievers' first Big South season and gradual improvement during the past three seasons were critical to his decision, Brown said. The Retrievers went 12-16 this season, including a first-round upset of defending champion Campbell in the Big South tournament. They were 10-19 a year ago and 7-22 in 1990-91.
Hawkins is 58-84 overall at UMBC, including 19-21 in conference play.
"I definitely wanted to come back to finish the job we started," he said. "I think the team has shown it can play with most anyone on our level. It's just a matter of time before we get to the point where we have a winning season."
Brown made clear he wants more than a winning season, though. He wants a spot in the NCAA tournament.
"Coach Hawkins is a high quality coach who has a positive relationship with his athletes, and the program has made steady progress the last several years," Brown said. "We have to be patient in gauging the team's progress, but our goal is to qualify for the NCAA tournament by winning our conference. We believe each year we're getting closer to that goal."
Hawkins loses the school's all-time assist leader in point guard Dana Harris next season, along with forward Brian Watkins. Returning are the team's top two scorers (guard Skip Saunders, 15.6 points, and center Sonique Nixon, 14.1). Pascal Fleury, a 7-foot-2 transfer from Georgetown, will be eligible after sitting out a season.
Hawkins said he was not overly concerned about the length of the extension.
"You always want more," he said. "I feel that we will take care of business next year as best we can and we will win. I feel down the road I will have a long-term deal. I have confidence in my ability, in my staff and in the players we have."
Hawkins at UMBC
Year ....... Record
1988-89 .... 17-11
1989-90 .... 12-16
1990-91 ..... 7-22
1991-92 .... 10-19
1992-93 .... 12-16
Totals ..... 58-84