The University of Maryland and men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon announced Friday that they’ve mutually agreed to part ways, abruptly ending his tenure less than a month into his 11th season with the Terps.
Turgeon led Maryland to appearances in five of the past six NCAA tournaments but struggled to establish the program among the nation’s elite. His teams were 226-116 overall since he took over for legendary coach Gary Williams in 2011. He was named the Big Ten Conference’s Coach of the Year in 2015 and a year later led the Terps to the first and only Sweet 16 of his tenure.
First-year assistant coach Danny Manning will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season, the school announced, and a national search for a new coach will begin after the season.
The Terps began the year ranked No. 21 in the country but have struggled in nonconference play. They fell to 5-3 after a 62-58 loss Wednesday to Virginia Tech during which some fans inside Xfinity Center booed Turgeon and called for his job. On Thursday, seldom-used freshman forward James Graham III, one of the team’s highest-rated recruits, entered the transfer portal.
“After a series of conversations with Coach Turgeon, we agreed that a coaching change was the best move for Coach Turgeon and for the Maryland Men’s Basketball program,” Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans said in a news release. “He has dedicated over a decade of his life to the University of Maryland, and has coached with distinction and honor. He leaves College Park as the 2020 Big Ten Conference champion and with more than 225 victories. He’s a great coach and a great person, and I wish Mark, his wife Ann and his entire family all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”
In a phone interview Friday, Evans said conversations with Turgeon began Wednesday night after the loss to the Hokies and continued into Thursday.
“Coach [Turgeon] felt and I felt the same,” Evans said. “It was the right time for him to step away, and for us to move in a different direction and make a make a coaching change.”
Turgeon’s departure comes eight months after he signed a three-year, $17 million contract extension through the 2025-26 season. He will be due $5 million, according to a team spokesman, the amount owed to him in a contract buyout under the terms of his recent deal obtained through a public records request.
“After several in depth conversations with Damon, I have decided that the best thing for Maryland Basketball, myself and my family is to step down, effective immediately, as the head coach of Maryland Basketball,” Turgeon said in the news release. “I have always preached that Maryland Basketball is bigger than any one individual. My departure will enable a new voice to guide the team moving forward.”
Turgeon, 56, told players he would be stepping down during a team meeting early Friday afternoon. The Terps were set to practice Friday ahead of their Big Ten opener Sunday against visiting Northwestern. Manning is not scheduled to speak publicly until after the game.
Evans, who was at the team meeting, said there was shock and sadness amongst the players.
“Obviously when something like this goes into effect, it’s emotional,” Evans said. “He gave a lot to the young men that represent the institution. Our players, they have a great sense of love and admiration for Coach Turgeon. So it was obvious in the room, how they felt about him and how much that they appreciated him.”
Evans said the school will do its due diligence to find the right coaching candidates.
“I believe that our basketball program here at Maryland is one of the premier jobs in the country, and that will attract some of the best candidates in the country for this job,” Evans said.
Evans said he feels fortunate to have someone of Manning’s caliber on the staff. Evans believes Manning’s head coaching experience at Tulsa and Wake Forest as well as his esteemed basketball career makes him the right person to lead this team through the rest of the season.
“He’s been coaching for quite some time,” said Evans, who didn’t rule out the possibility of Manning being a candidate for the full-time job. “I felt his experience coaching at the highest levels, his pedigree really brings a lot to the table for us.”
Turgeon’s departure leaves Evans with maybe the most important search of his three-year tenure as athletic director. He hired football coach Mike Locksley in December 2018 after DJ Durkin was fired in the wake of former McDonogh offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death that summer. Locksley is 12-23 overall in three years at Maryland but has guided the Terps to a likely bowl appearance this season.
Now Evans will help pick the ninth men’s basketball coach in program history, and just the fifth since 1969, when Lefty Driesell’s hire helped boost the program to national prominence. Turgeon’s departure comes nearly 20 years after Maryland’s 2002 national championship, the Terps’ only NCAA title and the capstone of a golden era that Williams and Turgeon struggled to reestablish.
Postseason struggles and fading fan support marred Turgeon’s final years in College Park. After finishing no higher than seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Turgeon’s first three seasons, Maryland has five top-five finishes in its first seven seasons in the Big Ten. But the Terps never advanced beyond the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament and didn’t beat a higher-seeded team in the NCAA tournament until their win over seventh-seeded Connecticut in March.
A blowout loss to second-seeded Alabama two days later marked the program’s fourth exit in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament since 2014. Turgeon agreed to the extension a month later, and in a release, Evans expressed belief in the program’s future under Turgeon.
“We all need to do our part, pulling in the same direction, pursuing a championship-level program,” he said.
Turgeon never had a losing season at Maryland, but his two most talented teams fell short of postseason expectations. One was unfortunate never to get there: In 2019-2020, when a Terps team led by forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph) and guard Anthony Cowan Jr. won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, the coronavirus pandemic ended the season before the Terps could even play in the conference tournament.
Four years earlier, Maryland entered the season as one of the nation’s top-ranked teams. But despite a strong returning core — guard Melo Trimble and forwards Jake Layman and Robert Carter Jr. — and an offseason infusion of talent — blue-chip center recruit Diamond Stone and Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon — Maryland finished third in the Big Ten and 27-9 overall. Their 2015-16 season ended with a 16-point loss to top-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16.
This season’s Terps team was considered a potential top-10 group in the weeks after last season ended, but significant offseason turnover changed the program’s direction. Turgeon hired Manning, whom he played with at Kansas, and Bruce Shingler as assistants after DeAndre Haynes and Bino Ranson, a Baltimore native and top recruiter, took assistant jobs at Marquette and DePaul, respectively.
On the floor, guard Aaron Wiggins, one of Maryland’s top players, gave up his senior year to enter the NBA draft, and guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph), an emotional leader and the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, followed Haynes to Marquette as a graduate transfer.
Turgeon rebuilt his starting lineup with transfers, taking in Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell and Georgetown center Qudus Wahab. But the Terps’ defense, a strength last year, has struggled over the season’s first month against mid-major competition, and their offense has failed to generate clean looks and punish opponents from deep. Maryland entered Friday as the country’s No. 337 3-point-shooting team (26.8%), ahead of just 13 Division I teams.
Manning, who went 78-111 as Wake Forest’s coach from 2014 to 2020, will begin his interim stint with a stretch of just three games over the next three-plus weeks. After Sunday’s Big Ten opener, the Terps face Florida Dec. 12 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, before taking a break for winter exams. On Dec. 28, they host Loyola Maryland.
In the school’s release Friday, Turgeon called Maryland basketball “my passion and focus for the last 10 seasons.” He arrived in College Park after leading Texas A&M to a 97-40 record and four NCAA tournament appearances in as many seasons. Turgeon also spent seven seasons as head coach at Wichita State, going 128-90, and two years at Jacksonville State. He is 476-275 overall as a head coach.