His coaching resume includes 10 consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships, and 13 overall. He was voted the league's Coach of the Year 12 times since 1971. He produced four national champions and compiled a record of 197-95.
And yet James Phillips was paid only as a physical education instructor at Morgan State, not to head the wrestling program. The arrangement had worked for a long time, but Phillips said that the need for a second income led to his resignation Jan. 10.
"I had to re-evaluate my family situation and my life a little bit," said Phillips, who was replaced by former assistant Woody Albert. "I had some financial responsibilities that I had to take care of, and I needed time in the evenings to get a second job. I was never paid to coach, which I guess is just how the system is. I never really asked. I just worked and did my job and tried to do the best I could for the university."
Phillips, 51, has been married for 30 years. He has four children, ranging in age from 29 to 19, and "a lot of grandchildren running around the house."
"My wife raised the kids, in a sense," he said. "I was never there. I've been away at Christmas for the last 22 years because of coaching. I had to try to make a recommitment to my wife and family. And retirement age is, like, 61, so I had to do something to put money in for retirement. It was a difficult decision, but I just think it was time I try to do something to hold up my end of the bargain."
Tanya Rush, the acting athletic director at Morgan State, confirmed that women's basketball coach Anderson Powell is the only other coach at Morgan State not receiving additional pay. She referred questions to Rick Perry, the vice president for student affairs, who said he wasn't aware that Phillips had finalized his decision to resign.
"I can't address it until I've at least had the opportunity to talk with him," Perry said.
Said Phillips: "Morgan's been good to me and my family. I'm not angry at them."
Phillips was an All-America offensive lineman at Morgan State during the undefeated 1965 and 1966 seasons and was a tri-captain with Willie Lanier and Bob Wade. He has worked as an assistant football coach and was head coach in 1983 and 1984 -- without extra pay.
David Bobb, UMBC's junior sprinter, will be the runaway favorite this spring to repeat as Big South Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Year. And if such an award were given during the indoor season, he'd be a lock for that as well.
Bobb has been a blur from the beginning, when he won the 55 meters at 6.35 at the Princeton Relays. From there, he took first in the 55 in two meets in Hagerstown, led UMBC's 4-by-400 relay team that placed second at the Millrose Games in New York, won the 55 and 200 at the University of Delaware and won the 55 and 200 at George Mason.
His time of 6.28 in the 55 at Delaware was a provisional qualifier for the NCAA championships next month in Indianapolis. It also set a UMBC record, and his 21.64 in the 200 was a school and Delaware Fieldhouse record.
He broke his mark in the 55 the next week at George Mason, posting a time of 6.26 that tied him for 11th nationally.
"We have All-American aspirations for him this year," said UMBC coach Jim Pfrogner, in his 25th season. "Without a doubt, he's the most talented athlete I've ever had."
Coppin State senior Twana Allen broke the school record in the 800 last week and became the first Eagle to qualify provisionally for the NCAA indoor championships with a time of 2 minutes, 8.54 seconds. . . . Salisbury State's men's basketball team had scored more than 100 points in three straight games, and five of its past six, before Tuesday's 72-70 win at St. Mary's. . . . For the sixth time this season, Salisbury senior Amy Fenzel was named to the ECAC's honor roll. She had 49 points and 28 rebounds in two games.