December 17, 2009
When analyzing the decline of the Maryland basketball program, it doesn't take long to get to Gary Williams' assistants. As we detailed in February (and many others have elsewhere), the Terps' 2002 national championship left the team's assistants in high demand and, naturally, each of the three men on Williams' bench took head coaching jobs elsewhere. Their replacements were not nearly as adept at recruiting which, in turn, sent Maryland into the worst free-fall of any title-winning team in nearly two decades. Or so the theory goes.
The Washington Times reported a story today that may shed some light as to why this is so. According to a public records search, Maryland's three assistant coaches are the lowest paid amongst the eight public schools in the ACC. (The four private schools in the conference -- Boston College, Duke, Miami and Wake Forest -- don't have to make such records public.) Read the piece, there's some good data in there.
The whole is interesting, sure, but how important is it? Some school has to have the lowest. Being eighth out of eight isn't as bad as it seems. It's not like Maryland's assistants are getting less than the guys at George Mason or the coaches of the women's team. Oh, wait ... They are?
OK, that's slightly embarrassing but I doubt it's correlated to Maryland's sub-par performance since winning the '02 title. Assistants don't work for the money, they work for the experience. Of course they'd like to get a paid a little more, but the goal is to make the big bucks down the road as a head coach someday. This is sweat equity. Working with Gary Williams is worth the lighter paycheck. You ask Robert Ehsan, Maryland's third assistant, whether he'd rather pull 66 grand at Maryland or $70,000 at Towson State, and you know what his answer would be.
That being said, Maryland's basketball program brings $10 million into the school annually. Surely they can afford to throw some more money at the guys who put in the hard hours in the gym and on the recruiting trail. It might not help the Terps get back to being a national contender, but it sure won't hurt.