- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brenda Oldfield was named women's basketball coach at Maryland yesterday, after turning around the program at Minnesota in her first year as coach.

Oldfield, who led the Golden Gophers to their first winning record since 1993-94, agreed to a six-year contract, said Maryland athletics director Deborah Yow. She is guaranteed $275,000 a year.

Yow said Oldfield, 31, has a "superb record of achievement."

Oldfield was selected as the Associated Press and Big Ten coach of the year for leading Minnesota to a 22-8 record and a first-round win in the NCAA tournament.

In three seasons as a Division I coach, including two at Ball State, Oldfield compiled a 57-30 record.

"She is an overachiever … a dynamic and determined leader as a coach," Yow said. "Over time, she will put our program in a position to compete for the national championship as one of the elite women's basketball programs in the country."

Minnesota had offered Oldfield a "very competitive" package to stay put, women's athletics director Chris Voelz said, but that apparently was not enough. Oldfield's $130,000 annual base salary was less than half that of many coaches at comparable programs.

"I am honored to be recognized as the next coach to help lead Maryland women's basketball to be a national level contender," Oldfield said. "This is a dream and a chance of a lifetime, and I knew it was a special fit."

Maryland plans to introduce Oldfield at a news conference today. Voelz said Oldfield wants to take her coaching staff with her.

At a news conference yesterday afternoon, Voelz said Oldfield told her she felt she couldn't win a national championship at Minnesota.

Oldfield believed, according to Voelz, that her title hopes at Maryland would be enhanced because of better weather, better facilities and a better talent base.

"Those three things she said were out of her control," Voelz said. "She said we had done everything we could to keep her."

The Maryland position opened up when Chris Weller retired in March after 27 years as coach. Weller was 499-286, with eight ACC titles and three trips to the Final Four.

This season, Maryland began the season ranked in the Top 25 but finished 13-17.

The prospect of NCAA sanctions for rule violations by Oldfield's predecessor, Cheryl Littlejohn, may have played a role in Oldfield's decision to leave.

A university investigation found Littlejohn paid a former player between $200 and $300, made players practice outside of NCAA-approved times and interfered with the investigation.

The NCAA infractions committee is scheduled to consider the case April 13. Potential penalties range from cutting scholarships and recruiting activities to a two-year shutdown of the program. Minnesota's attorney has argued that the Littlejohn violations shouldn't fall under repeat offender rules because they occurred before the school was put on probation for academic cheating in the men's program.

Voelz said she didn't think candidates for Oldfield's replacement should be deterred by the pending sanctions the NCAA's decision should come five or six weeks after the hearing. University attorneys have told Voelz there's a "remote" chance any of the penalties will be serious.

Voelz said she has no timeline for naming a successor but believes the search will be done before the NCAA releases its decision.

The relationship between Oldfield and Voelz was reportedly strained, but Voelz insisted that wasn't the case and wished Oldfield the best.

"Time will tell whether her analysis was better than our analysis," Voelz said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide