- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2002

A lot of big names from Maryland's basketball history participated in the ceremonies marking Sunday's final basketball game at Cole Field House. But conspicuous by his absence was former coach Lefty Driesell, who was not invited.
Now the coach at Georgia State, Driesell on yesterday played down his non-appearance.
"It doesn't make any difference to me," he said. "My feelings weren't hurt. It would have been nice to see all my players, but I got to see them on TV."
Others, however, are more upset.
"I thought it was in poor taste, and I'm extremely disappointed," said Russ Potts, a Virginia state senator who was Maryland's sports marketing director and assistant athletic director in the 1970s. "And I also feel like Jim Kehoe and Tom Fields also should have been there."
Kehoe, the former track coach and athletic director who hired Driesell; Potts, who marketed and sold the basketball program; and Fields, who founded the modern-day Terrapins Club, have been cited as also contributing to Cole's lore and legend.
"Jim Kehoe should have been there, no question," Driesell said.
Said former Terps player and Driesell assistant Joe Harrington: "I think those men had a lot to do with making Maryland basketball one of the best programs in the country, And I felt like they should have been there for the closing of Cole Field House."
Kehoe, who was not available for comment, told the Baltimore Sun, "I'm disappointed that I wasn't asked to come, but it's absolutely wrong that Lefty Driesell, the man who started it all, was not invited. It's sinful. I was shocked when he told me he wasn't invited."
Potts, a promotions whiz who built the Terps' television network, among other accomplishments, said, "We did some good things in that era, some very good things. And I think we ought to build on that era. … You can't obliterate history. Lefty built Cole Field House."
Cole actually was completed in 1955. But it was only after Driesell became coach in 1969, added seats on the floor, juiced the crowds with his antics and fielded consistently outstanding teams, that the building literally began to rock and roll.
"When you think of Cole Field House, you think of Lefty Driesell and his magnetism and energy that took that program from among the nation's five worst," Potts said. "And he built a national power."
Among those on hand Sunday were Bud Millikan, the coach when Cole opened; players from the first team to play in Cole as well as the 1958 NCAA Tournament team; plus many great players from Maryland's past.
Many were Driesell's players. One of them, former All-American Tom McMillen, said, "I thought about it when he wasn't there. He was very much a part of Cole, and it would have been nice to see him honored. That's all I need to say, really."
A Maryland spokesman said the omission was not meant to slight Driesell who resigned under pressure amid acrimony and controversy in 1986 following the cocaine-related death of former star Len Bias nor anyone else.
"We narrowed the focus to bring back all those teams and players," associate athletic director Dave Haglund said. "There were no administrators in the post-game ceremonies at all, current or former. The focus was on All-Americans and all-conference players, and five longtime season-ticket holders."
Said Harrington: "I can see that side of it. Where do you draw the line? But I was hoping that [Driesell] would be there."
Haglund noted that Driesell was acknowledged when the ceremonies ended with the "Amen Chorus," which became popular when Driesell was coach.
"We had a great celebration," Haglund said, "and I think everyone I've spoken to appreciated what went on.
But Haglund did not speak with Potts. Told of Haglund's explanation why Driesell and the others weren't invited, Potts said, "Well, I agree to disagree."
A 1964 Maryland graduate, Potts said, "I am happy and proud to be a Maryland man. I'm proud of [Terps coach] Gary Williams and the job he's done, and by no means do I want to detract from that. But Lefty Driesell deserved to be honored."
Driesell's Georgia State team lost to Florida Atlantic 76-75 in the finals of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament Saturday afternoon in Orlando, Fla. The Virginia-Maryland game at Cole tipped off at 8:12 p.m. Sunday.


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