Maryland lacrosse coach John Tillman said late Tuesday he declined to meet with Navy about its vacant head coaching position when given the opportunity to do so.
Tillman, who just wrapped up his first season in College Park last week, said he spoke with athletic director Kevin Anderson about the decision on Tuesday. Maryland lost to Virginia in the national title game, its first Memorial Day appearance since 1998.
“To me, it was no big deal,” Tillman said. “We went on such a good ride and it was a great experience. I know we lose a lot. The whole thing brought our team closer together and we got to know each other real well and we sacrificed and bought in. The only thing I needed to do was to talk to Kevin. He didn’t hire me, and I had to make sure that if there’s waffling, I need to know that. If you like what we’re doing, I’m in. I’m a loyal guy. I don’t want to find out next year I’m not your guy. He was great.”
Tillman, who is 33-24 in four seasons as a head coach, was hired away from Harvard last June. Barely a week later, athletic director Debbie Yow departed for N.C. State. Anderson then was hired as Yow’s replacement in September.
Tillman worked as an assistant for 12 years at Navy for Richie Meade, who resigned last month. Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk has sought a replacement for Meade for more than four weeks.
Tillman said he was originally supposed to meet with Anderson on May 23, the day after the NCAA tournament quarterfinal weekend. But when the Terrapins upset Syracuse to reach their first final four since 2006, the meeting was delayed so Tillman could concentrate on Maryland’s tournament run.
Last weekend, Tillman said he received word from Anderson that Gladchuk requested permission to speak with him. Tillman said Gladchuk asked to meet with him, at which time Tillman spoke with Anderson again.
“I said ‘He would like to meet with me, and I would like you to know,’” Tillman said. “And Kevin said ‘I’d rather you not meet with him.’ I called Chet back and said ‘I’m not comfortable meeting. I’m happy. I have a great contract and a great thing going. I have to meet with Kevin and make sure he thinks I’m the right guy.’ I met with Kevin today. He’s happy with what we’re doing. He checked the box.”
Thus brought a predictable conclusion to the possibility of a return to Annapolis for Tillman. Just last week, Tillman said he was happy at Maryland and pleased with the direction of the program.
There’s also the matter of Tillman’s contract, which is not conducive to an early departure. Tillman signed a seven-year deal upon coming to Maryland, and earned a one-year extension through 2018 for reaching the final four. Tillman can add up to two more years over the rest of his contract based on that provision.
Tillman is guaranteed $180,000 each year —- $150,000 in base salary and $30,000 for fundraising compensation. His deal also includes an annual $5,000 raise if Maryland reaches the NCAA tournament.
The buyout clause for both Tillman and the school requires a party prematurely ending the deal to pay $200,000 or 35 percent of the guaranteed remaining compensation, whichever is greater. Based on both the $5,000 raise and the extra season added to the deal, Tillman’s buyout is a little more than $450,000.
A copy of Tillman’s contract was obtained through an open records request.
While Gladchuk continues his search, Tillman will begin planning for next season. Maryland loses 17 seniors from a 13-5 team, but brings in seven Under Armour All-Americans —- the largest total for any school nationally.
“I’m kind of excited,” Tillman said. “We’re going to be a different team, but it’s a good group of guys. I want to be here for a long time. Navy’s a great program, but they’ll find someone good. I think we’ve got a lot of people excited about the program, and I think it’s one of the better programs out there.”
—- Patrick Stevens