Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams agreed in principle to a two-year contract extension yesterday, a deal that is guaranteed through 2011 and could take him through the 2013-14 season.
Williams, who signed his last contract in December, had only three guaranteed years remaining on the deal. Coaches -- especially those who are well-established -- usually prefer to be assured of at least four more seasons so their contract status is not an issue during recruiting.
"I think it's important for recruiting, but it's important to me," Williams said. "I've done a lot of things at Maryland. Both things are important."
Williams' last agreement locked him up through 2009 and provided four option years, each contingent on the Terps making the NCAA tournament and the program either meeting the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate cut score of 925 or the team's scholarship players averaging at least 27 credits in the academic year.
Neither criteria seemed to be a concern when the deal was reached. Maryland was 7-2 and ranked 16th in the country, but senior guard Chris McCray was declared academically ineligible a month later. The Terps ultimately missed the tournament for the second straight year and finished 19-13.
"We knew at that point we were going to have an issue where he'd be recruiting players when he didn't have a guaranteed contract through their senior year," associate athletic director for external operations Brian Ullmann said. "It certainly wasn't a planned thing. There wasn't a great spark to do it. It was the right thing to do for recruiting purposes and matching up his contract to his fund raising."
Williams is the co-chairman of a university-wide capital campaign that ends in 2011.
The deal Williams signed last year guaranteed him at least $1.6 million annually, with the possibility of earning $2.3 million. Both Ullmann and Williams said finances were not a factor in the extension.
"I didn't want any more money," Williams said. "Money was not the [priority] of the discussion."
The restructured deal still includes three option years that would vest under the same circumstances as last year's contract. Despite McCray's ineligibility and the decision of three other seniors to withdraw from classes after last season ended, Ullmann said "a majority" of this season's six-man senior class is expected to graduate by this summer.
"Everybody expects we'll be back in the NCAA tournament, that we'll meet the academic requirements and that Gary Williams will be the coach at least through 2014," Ullmann said. "That's how we went about it."
Williams is 355-191 at Maryland and started his 18th season with two victories this week in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. He led the Terps to 11 straight NCAA tournament berths, two Final Fours and the 2002 national championship.
"I came here in '89 and we did some things and started turning things around," said Williams, who will be 69 when the 2014 season ends. "There's been some very positive things during that time and I've enjoyed it here. It's where I went to do my undergraduate work, so there's some feeling about coaching here and ending my coaching career here."
Note -- Forwards Dino Gregory and Braxton Dupree signed letters of intent to play for Maryland yesterday. Shooting guard Adrian Bowie and power forward Shane Walker are expected to sign their letters today.