- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2011

Maryland’s search for a new basketball coach is over.

Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon told reporters Monday in College Station, Texas, he agreed to succeed the retiring Gary Williams as the Terrapins’ head coach.

Turgeon was 97-40 in four seasons at Texas A&M, his first job at a power conference school. He previously had head coaching jobs at Jacksonville State and Wichita State.

Turgeon made NCAA tournament appearances in each of his four seasons at Texas A&M, never advancing past the second round. He also took Wichita State to the 2006 NCAA regional semifinals, where the Shockers lost to George Mason at Verizon Center. He is 250-159 in 13 seasons overall.

Turgeon earned about $1.6 million last season after receiving a contract extension in the spring of 2010, according to a USA Today coaching compensation database. Williams earned approximately $2 million.

Last season, Texas A&M went 24-9 and earned the No. 7 seed in the Southwest regional. The Aggies, who finished the season ranked No. 24, lost to Florida State in the round of 64 in March.

In coming to Maryland, Turgeon is swapping a basketball program often overlooked in a football-mad state for one less than a decade removed from reaching the sport’s summit. Maryland also ranked in the top 10 nationally in attendance for eight straight years before falling to 14th last season.

Still, there is work to do. Maryland missed the NCAA tournament in four of the past seven years and has not advanced to the regional semifinals since 2003. Nonetheless, the totality of Williams’ accomplishments will make him a difficult figure to replace.

Williams retired Thursday after a 22-year stint at his alma mater, setting off a frenzied search for a replacement. One of Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson’s early targets was Arizona coach Sean Miller, who spurned the Terps’ interest and signed a contract extension to remain in Tucson.

Anderson eventually chose Turgeon, a coach with a pedigree tied to a pair of Hall of Famers, to replace the man who won Maryland’s only national title and led the Terps to consecutive Final Fours a decade ago.

A Kansas graduate, Turgeon was a two-year captain under Larry Brown and broke into coaching with the Jayhawks’ national championship team in 1988. He remained on staff when Brown departed and Roy Williams (now an ACC adversary for Turgeon) took over, eventually spending time at Oregon and then a year as an NBA assistant with Brown in Philadelphia.

After a two-year stint at Jacksonville State, the Topeka, Kan., native returned to his home state to take over at Wichita State. He reached three NITs with the Shockers before making a run to the second weekend of the tournament in 2006.

Turgeon replaced Billy Gillispie, who left for Kentucky, at Texas A&M in 2007. Although his Aggies teams have not advanced past the round of 32, he is the only coach of a current Big 12 school to win at least 24 games in each of his first four seasons.

It will be difficult for the 46-year-old to match that initial success in College Park. The Terps were 19-14 in Williams’ final season and did not participate in a postseason tournament for the first time since 1993. Maryland will break in a new starting frontcourt next season after losing starters Jordan Williams (NBA) and Dino Gregory (graduation).

Turgeon’s first team likely will rely heavily on sophomore guards Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin, as well as senior guard Sean Mosley. The Terps also have three incoming freshmen - guards Sterling Gibbs and Nick Faust and forward Martin Breunig - who could re-evaluate their options with the arrival of a new coach.



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