When Gary Williams returned to Maryland from Ohio State in 1989, the chance of the former Terrapins captain staying at his alma mater for more than a decade seemed unlikely. The odds of Maryland reaching No. 2 in the national polls seemed even longer at the time. Both happened yesterday.
Williams, 53, signed an extension that could run through May 2008, a seven-year term contract with three one-year rollovers.
According to sources familiar with the contract, Williams' entire package could be worth as much as $900,000 a year if a myriad of bonuses are realized. It represents an increase of about $300,000 a year from the contract Williams signed in 1994, which was a 10-year deal that began with three one-year rollovers.
The new contract includes a base salary of $156,712, as well as guaranteed revenue earned through his television and radio shows, summer camp and speaking engagements. There are also bonus clauses for the competitive and academic success of the team, including a sizable one should Maryland win the national championship. Williams also has a contract for his team to wear Nike shoes and apparel.
The announcement of Williams' new contract came on the same day that the 7-0 Terrapins, fresh off their impressive play in winning the Puerto Rico Shootout, were voted behind only Connecticut in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll. It represents the highest ranking for Maryland since the 1975-76 season.
The new contract is an indication of the stability Williams has found in his career.
"I've told people that this is where I wanted to coach, and there were times they didn't believe me, but I've been here 10 years," Williams said before practice yesterday. "I felt this could be as good a job as any in the country. We needed to straighten some things out. To be honest, I didn't know if we could straighten things out."
Williams came to Maryland after spending three years at Ohio State. Before that he was at Boston College and American University, each for four seasons. The program he inherited in College Park was about to go on NCAA probation, which included a harsh two-year ban from postseason competition after the completion of his first season.
After reaching the National Invitation Tournament that year, the Terps didn't make the NCAA tournament until 1993-94. They have gone in each subsequent year, marking the first time in school history that Maryland has played in five straight NCAA tournaments. The Terps have reached the Sweet 16 three times under Williams, including last season.
"There are few people who could have turned the program around in this fashion," said Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow.
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, talks of a new contract began during last year's NCAA tournament with a conversation between Yow and Don McCartney, a Columbia attorney who represents Williams. The conversation was not about the length of Williams' existing contract, but the dollar figures attached to it.
Those familiar with the contracts of the other eight Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball coaches said yesterday that the old contract put Williams in the middle of the pack, but that the new contract could potentially put Williams behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, who is reported to be earning in excess of $1 million a year.
"I think the contract properly rewards Gary for putting Maryland back at the top echelon of college basketball," McCartney said last night.
Neither Williams, Yow nor McCartney would talk about the specifics of the contract. "The goal was to create a contract that would reflect appropriately the status of our program -- which is a Top 5 program -- both financially and in terms of security," said Yow. "We think we have done that. And I believe he deserves this."
Said Williams, "I'm being paid where I think I should be paid. I do appreciate this. It is a commitment by the school. It is a commitment I have made on my part. I think I do a good job."
Williams' job now will include making sure his Terrapins continue to improve. Despite their impressive performances in Puerto Rico, including a 16-point win over UCLA in the semifinals and a 35-point pounding of Pittsburgh in the championship game, Williams sees areas in which Maryland can get better.
"Our foul shooting stinks [62 percent]. Our half-court offense hasn't been tested because we've scored so many baskets in transition," said Williams. "We also have to show we can come back from a tough game or a tough loss. We haven't done that yet."
Maryland will certainly be tested in the next week. The Terrapins open their ACC season Thursday night at Cole Field House against Wake Forest, a team that beat Maryland twice last season despite the Demon Deacons playing mostly freshmen and sophomores. Then comes fifth-ranked Stanford, which reached last year's Final Four, in the first round of the BB&T; Classic at the MCI Center in Washington on Sunday.
As is his nature, Williams isn't getting overly excited about the No. 2 ranking. Or that the Terps are on the brink of doing something that has never been accomplished in school history -- a No. 1 ranking. (Maryland has been ranked second a total of 16 times, the most of any school that has never been ranked No. 1.)
"Now," he said, "we want to prove we deserve to be there."
Pub Date: 12/01/98