Washington

Mark Turgeon steps down as Terps head coach

Washington

Following years of underperforming in the NCAA Tournament and a poor start to the 2021-22 college basketball season, Maryland Athletics and men's basketball head coach Mark Turgeon mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately. 

“After several in depth conversations with [Athletic Director] Damon [Evans], I have decided that the best thing for Maryland Basketball, myself and my family is to step down, effective immediately, as the head coach of Maryland Basketball,” Turgeon said in a Maryland release. “I have always preached that Maryland Basketball is bigger than any one individual. My departure will enable a new voice to guide the team moving forward."

Danny Manning, a legendary player at Kansas and an assistant coach who joined Turgeon's Maryland staff earlier this year, will step in as the interim head coach. The athletic department will begin a national search following the end of the 2021-22 season.

Much of Turgeon's 10-year tenure was a constant struggle with a fan base accustomed to winning under longtime head coach Gary Williams, who went to two Final 4s at the school and won a national championship in 2002.

It took Turgeon three seasons to get the Terrapins back to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. That coincided with the school's move to the Big Ten conference from its longtime home in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Four more NCAA Tournament bids would follow.

Ultimately, though, Turgeon never carried the program past the Sweet Sixteen. In nine possible NCAA Tournaments (removing the 2019-20 COVID-cancelled tournament), the Terrapins only made five appearances. The best season came in 2020 when Maryland won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, but there was no tournament that year for them to showcase their success. 

 

The Terrapins only made it out of the first weekend of the tournament once: the 2015-16 season. 

Some of the inconsistencies that were a theme of the Turgeon-era were prevalent at the start of the 2021-22 season, too. The team had posted a 5-3 record, including the first loss to George Mason in program history and close wins against George Washington and Hofstra on their home court.

The program was projected to have another competitive season in the Big Ten and contend for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Most key contributors from last year's tournament team returned and Maryland recruited two high-profile transfers in Georgetown's Qudus Wahab and Rhode Island's Fatts Russell.

Turgeon said last year was a 'rebuilding year' countless times, but that team never posted the questionable results that this's year squad has so far. The latest was a 62-58 home loss to Virginia Tech in College Park on Wednesday where Turgeon heard a smattering of boos when he was announced before the game. That was just the latest sign of trouble. 

“After a series of conversations with Coach Turgeon, we agreed that a coaching change was the best move for Coach Turgeon and for the Maryland Men’s Basketball program,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a release. “He has dedicated over a decade of his life to the University of Maryland, and has coached with distinction and honor. He leaves College Park as the 2020 Big Ten Conference champion and with more than 225 victories. He’s a great coach and a great person, and I wish Mark, his wife Ann and his entire family all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”

After the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which ended with a blowout loss to Alabama in the second round, Turgeon received a three-year contract extension. However, it didn't exactly instill confidence on either side. Pressure remained on the coach and the current team hasn't lived up to expectations.

Turgeon's contract entitles him to a $5 million buyout if he was terminated "in the best interests of the university," according to the Baltimore Sun.