Maryland’s Gary Williams calling it a career

Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams

Since I have been a kid there have been very few constants in the world of sports. People I grew up watching and idolizing have now since retired, and new people have taken their place. But throughout the years there has been once constant in College Basketball. Maryland Terrapins Head Coach Gary Williams has been at his Alma mater for the last 22 years and has had Maryland Basketball in the minds of people across the country for most of those 22 years. Even for a boy growing up in football crazy Texas, I have known and watched Maryland basketball every time it comes on television.

He made a name for himself and built a winning program while having to play the likes of Duke and North Carolina every year. Williams has a hall of fame resume from his time at Maryland and has also won a National Championship. Williams won 668 games, 461 at Maryland. He went to 14 NCAA tournaments, won three ACC regular-season titles and had seven Sweet 16 appearances, two Elite Eights and two Final Fours. Williams was the national coach of the year in 2002 and the ACC coach of the year in 2002 and 2010.

That is not too shabby for a guy who had to cut his teeth against the likes of Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski. He has said that at age 66, it is time to do something else with his time. That only leaves Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim as long term coaches over the age of 60 in College Basketball. Sadly, most people won’t know Williams for his on the court success, he is more well known for the on going battle with former Athletic Director Debbie Yow.

So, enjoy your retirement Gary, just know that College Basketball fans around the country will miss seeing you stalk the sidelines at arena’s during the winter. Happy trails.

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St John’s Lavin has cancer

In a surprising and sad report today, we learned the St John’s head coach Steve Lavin was diagnosed with the early stages of Prostate Cancer this past fall.  What is surprising is that he learned about this and continued to coach without letting anyone know. While it was caught early and considered a low grade cancer, it is still something to be taken serious. Luckily for Lavin, they caught it early and don’t expect him to miss any time away from his coaching duties. This is just proof that nobody is safe from the clutches of Cancer.

Two other Big East coaches who have had the same problems have reached out in support for Lavin. Both Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim have been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer. They were both able to beat the disease and continue their coaching ability. With the positive outlook, everyone is expecting Lavin back on the Court next weekend. But all our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Here is a link to On the Line which is an initiative on prostate cancer that has ESPN personalities have been doing commercials for. It is information every man and woman should know.

Year of the NCAA; Crackdowns and investigations make headlines

Since the start of 2010, there has been one constant theme in college sports and it continues into the first part of 2011. NCAA crackdowns and investigations have almost become a daily occurrence and breaking news on every news wire across the country. This seems like a cyclical thing that happens every 5-10 years, the NCAA decides to get tough and clean up everything that may have been overlooked for the last few years to the previous decade.

 The one thing that really got the ball rolling here was the final decision on the USC and Reggie Bush investigation that took years to complete. Then before the start of this past college football season, we had what was coined as “agent gate” where the NCAA was investigating North Carolina’s football team and it ended with some suspensions and some players being kicked off the team. But that seemed to be the sign of the times where every other story written was some school was self-reporting this, or this team had to meet with the NCAA about that. It just became a never ending line of violations and compliance issues that dominated the papers everyday but on Saturday. 

The one story that really got everyone going was the breaking news halfway through the season about Cam Newton supposedly being shopped to Mississippi State for $180,000. This was a soap opera story at its finest. Every opponent took their shots and continues to do so, but the real questionable thing that happened here is the fact that Cam got suspended prior to the SEC championship game, then was re-instated 24 hours later. Then all he did was go on to win the Heisman and a National Championship. Since the end of the season, this story has since gone away and will probably be resolved with nothing being done. Because for once there is no real trail of wrong doing, it has all been here say.

College sports fans would have thought that moving on to basketball season would help break away from the problems, but as it has been, the NCAA was investigating Tennessee for recruiting violations with their head basketball coach. But the SEC decided to go ahead and suspend him at the start of conference play, but then the NCAA delivered their letter. Now everyone around the program is wondering what the program will face and if firing Bruce Pearl would help lessen that blow. But this matter won’t be resolved until June.

The one that surprised everyone was the fact that Jim Calhoun of UCONN got busted with a recruiting violation and is going to have to sit out 3 games next season in the Big East conference play. So, it is looking like anyone and everyone is in danger and everything is being magnified 100 times. The question that lingers for everyone is this going to be a long term deal, or will the NCAA do what they did in the past and start lightening up on everyone after they prove a point.

Cheating happens on every level of college athletics, and there is no real way to stop it, unless the NCAA will hit every team they catch with heavy sanctions, regardless of how big or how profitable the program makes the sport. Until the NCAA can find a way to scare everyone straight, it is just going to be an endless game of who gets caught and who gets away with it. The bottom line is, if you are stupid and don’t cover your tracks correctly, then you will face the wrath of the NCAA. But most fans are getting tired of hearing about another school facing sanctions and having problems, just because something slipped out that wasn’t supposed to. I am all for a clean and fair sport, but that will never happen as long as there are schools that make huge amounts of money and there are other schools who can’t make a dime.