- - Thursday, May 5, 2011

Word of longtime basketball coach Gary Williams‘ retirement Thursday afternoon stunned the University of Maryland student body.

“Everyone loves him,” said Amalie Trentzsch, a freshman on the Terps women’s lacrosse team. “I mean, people always cheer for him when he comes out of the tunnel.”

Shock was the overwhelming emotion in College Park, as the student body received an email from athletic director Kevin Anderson shortly before 5 p.m. announcing the decision.

The news came just a day after sophomore star forward Jordan Williams announced he would not be returning, and many believed the decisions must have not been coincidental.

“I was feeling that when Jordan left, something might have been going on,” said sophomore Pete Volk, the founder of a Maryland sports blog, Terrapin Station. “But still, it kind of came out of nowhere. Usually when these big stories happen, you kind of hear it through the grapevine, but it seemed like people were genuinely surprised.”

Rumors about the reasons for Williams‘ retirement swirled among the students, who wondered aloud about his possible motivations.

“I think he just got married,” Trentzsch said. “I don’t know, maybe he wants to do something else. I’m sure he’ll still be involved with the university.”

Williams will be staying on as an assistant athletic director and special assistant to Anderson, which should please his fans.

“I think Gary just felt that there’s not much more that he can get out of this,” Volk said. “As Maryland fans, we have to respect that. He gave a lot to the university over the years.”

Since winning the national championship in 2002, the program has failed to live up to its fans’ lofty expectations. In the near future, those expectations have now been lowered even further.

“It’s not good,” said senior Collin Berglund. “The recruits are already starting to drop, and next season might not go that well if we don’t have a coach real soon. They’ve got to get on it really fast and find someone who can replace him.”

While it remains to be seen what impact Williams‘ retirement will have on incoming freshmen Nick Faust, Sterling Gibbs and Martin Breunig, there’s no doubt that Maryland basketball as Terps fans know it is about to change.

“It’s going to be weird for me,” said senior Nick Bonomo. “I’ve grown up watching him coach. I associate Gary directly with Maryland basketball.”