- The Washington Times
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Mark Turgeon signed a three-year contract extension with Maryland basketball, the program announced Wednesday, extending the coach’s stay through the end of the 2025-26 season.

The contract extension quells uncertainty about Turgeon’s immediate future in College Park, although the release states “Turgeon’s new contract contains revised financial terms.” After the Terrapins’ second-round exit from the NCAA Tournament to hot-shooting Alabama, pressure mounted on the athletic department to move on from Turgeon.

But the powers that be opted to extend Turgeon, a move many of the program’s top boosters strongly supported. Those boosters point to the consistency Turgeon has brought to Maryland, including a .662 winning percentage — a mark better than Gary Williams.

“Turgeon’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s been coach of the year in every conference he’s ever coached in,” said Rick Jaklitsch, a prominent personal injury attorney from Upper Marlboro, Md., who previously served as president of the university’s Terrapin Club. “He’s everything you say you want in a coach.”

The main point of contention surrounding Turgeon is his teams’ lack of tournament success, though. The Terrapins beat Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, their first win in the conference tournament since 2016. The coronavirus shutdown in 2019-20 ended what could’ve been a strong run, though; Maryland secured a share of the regular season title.

And in the NCAA Tournament, Maryland hasn’t managed a deep run. Turgeon has led the Terrapins to five NCAA Tournament appearances in the last six seasons there have been tournaments. But Maryland has made it to just one Sweet 16 appearance in his 10 seasons at the helm.

“We believe in Coach Turgeon and are excited about what the future holds for Maryland basketball,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a release. “Coach is fully committed to Maryland and we are in agreement of the expectations for our program as we move forward. Coach and the staff have already been at work recruiting and building on our recent success. We all need to do our part, pulling in the same direction, pursuing a championship-level program.”

Turgeon has managed to produce a record of .500 or above in 21 of his 23 seasons as a head coach — with stops at Jacksonville State, Wichita State and Texas A&M before arriving at Maryland. His performance this season might’ve been his best, considering the gaps on his roster.

After losing point guard Anthony Cowan and forward Jalen Smith, the Terrapins were hampered without a true point guard and little-to-no interior threat this past season. He opted to change his team’s style to a small-ball, defensive-minded unit. That adjustment led to a turnaround.

“I learned a lot about coaching,” Turgeon said after his team’s loss to Alabama. “I learned a lot about myself. I think I became a better coach this year because of the things I had to go through.”

Despite starting the Big Ten slate 1-5 and sitting at 3-7 in late January, the adjusrments led to a five-game winning streak in February that propelled Maryland back into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

“He did what we always want any coach to do; he changed the way he handled games by the talent that he had assembled this year,” Jaklitsch said. “He fit the Terp game to the Terp talent. That’s what you want a coach to do. So he went with four guards and a small forward. And he got the most out of them.”

Turgeon is receiving his second contract extension since arriving in College Park. In 2016, after reaching the Sweet 16, then-athletic director Kevin Anderson gave Turgeon a four-year extension. With Turgeon’s deal set to expire following the 2022-23 season, this latest extension comes at an important time, giving Turgeon a boost on the recruiting trail with a steadier platform.

Turgeon’s already retooling his roster for next season, too. He added center Qudus Wahab and point guard Fatts Russell from the transfer portal, seemingly filling the two more glaring holes in the roster.

“I want to thank Damon Evans and President Pines for their continued belief in me to lead the basketball program,” Turgeon said in a statement. “Maryland is a special place and my commitment to the program has never wavered. I am extremely proud of our recent accomplishments as Big Ten champions and as NCAA Tournament qualifiers six of the last seven years and we are hungry for more. We are building great momentum heading into the 2021-22 season and I am excited for our future.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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