COLLEGE PARK -- Though he never declared his candidacy, East Carolina's Dave Hart Jr. said yesterday that he would no longer be involved in the University of Maryland's search for a new athletic director.
Hart's decision, which came as the selection committee was about to send a short list of potential choices to university president William E. Kirwan, has led to speculation that Maryland will pursue Tulane athletic director Kevin White.
Neither Hart nor White was officially a candidate, but both met with the committee as consultants. Debbie Yow, athletic director at Saint Louis University, also met in a consulting role with the committee last month and is believed to be on the short list.
Sources have indicated that an offer could be made next week. Maryland is looking to fill the position vacated by Andy Geiger, who took a similar position at Ohio State in May.
According to a spokesman at the Greenville, N.C., school, Hart said he had told the committee he wanted to remain at East Carolina, where he has worked since 1983, the past seven years as athletic director.
While candidates often withdraw from consideration if they feel someone else is going to get the job, a source familiar with the process said that wasn't the case for Hart.
"I was contacted by the University of Maryland regarding their search for a director of athletics. I made it clear that my focus needed to remain on what we are trying to accomplish at East Carolina, and therefore I was not interested in pursuing the job at the University of Maryland," Hart said in a statement.
Marie Smith Davidson, executive assistant to Kirwan and the head of the search committee, said yesterday that "the committee regrets it was unable to persuade Mr. Hart to be a candidate for this position."
Davidson declined to comment on any other aspect of the search, including a rumor that a "big name" in intercollegiate sports had expressed interest in the job after being brought in as a consultant.
Dave Maggard, a former athletic director at University of California and Miami, said last night that he met with the committee as a consultant but is not interested in pursuing the Maryland job. Maggard is an executive with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
It is not clear whether White would take the Maryland job if offered it. Drawbacks include the $6 million debt the athletic department has incurred and the fact that he is probably making more money at Tulane, a private university.
White was unavailable for comment yesterday. In the summer of 1990, when White was the athletic director at Maine, he was considered to be the leading choice to replace Lew Perkins until Geiger became a candidate after being a consultant.