Nearly one month after the Maryland men’s basketball team hired Cliff Warren as its new director of basketball operations, the Terrapins are expected to promote Warren to assistant coach with an announcement scheduled for later this week, an individual with knowledge of the situation said Monday morning.
The move leaves the Terrapins and Coach Mark Turgeon still searching for a complete coaching staff for the first time since last fall, given the now-vacated operations director position, but Warren will replace Scott Spinelli, who left for Boston College in mid-April. Former Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson was the initial target, but after he instead agreed to terms with Louisville, Maryland went radio-silent on the search, preferring to take its time during dead recruiting periods.
Warren, who previously worked as an assistant for a Georgia Tech team that reached the 2004 national title game, has earned a strong reputation among D.C.-area AAU programs, particularly for his recruiting with the Yellow Jackets, where among others he helped lure Maryland native and future NBA point guard Jarrett Jack to Atlanta. He quickly impressed his new colleagues at Maryland, hopping onto the recruiting trail while the third assistant coach spot remained vacant.
“Cliff is an outstanding addition to our staff,” Turgeon had said in April, when Warren was hired as the director of basketball operations. “He brings a wealth of experience at the collegiate level and has had success at a number of different programs. We’re excited for Cliff and his family to return to the Maryland area.”
A native of Silver Spring with relatives across the region, Warren had spent nine seasons as the Jacksonville head coach, elevating the program from a one-win doormat his first season into an Atlantic Sun contender. He was fired this offseason after three straight seasons below .500, but left with a school-record 126 victories and two league championships. At the time of his initial hiring at Maryland, it was viewed as a coup to bring such an experienced head coach into an operations director position, who is primarily responsible for logistics like booking travel but by NCAA rules cannot instruct players during practices or games.
The promotion will officially move Warren to the bench, adding the 46-year-old to a staff that includes Bino Ranson and Dustin Clark, neither of whom have head coaching experience. After former assistant Dalonte Hill resigned last November, Clark was promoted to assistant coach and the Terps spent their entire 2013-14 season without an operations director. That meant those duties were divided among the support staff, with officials like Clark, trainer Matt Charvat, director of basketball performance Kyle Tarp, video coordinator Jon Trock and others booking plane flights, hotels, recruiting visits and other such matters typically falling to one person.
InsideMDSports reported Sunday night that Warren’s promotion was “likely.” On Monday, the source said the Terrapins hope to make it official as soon as Wednesday.
For reference, a timeline of assistant coach movement under Turgeon is below:
May 9, 2011: Turgeon hired at Maryland, holds over Ranson from Gary Williams’s staff.
May 17, 2011: Sources confirm that former Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill would join Turgeon’s staff.
May 18, 2011: Spinelli follows Turgeon from Texas A&M.
Nov. 27, 2013: Hill resigns after DUI charge; Clark promoted to assistant coach, vacating the operations job.
April 12, 2014: Spinelli leaves for significant raise at Boston College.
April 22, 2014: Kenny Johnson, Maryland’s top choice to replace Spinelli, chooses Louisville.
April 23, 2014: Maryland hires Warren as its new director of basketball operations.
Week of May 19: Warren expected to be hired as new assistant coach, again leaving director of basketball operations position vacant.