University Names Wade as Successor to Driesell
By Mark Asher and Sally Jenkins
Wade, 41, the first black head coach in Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, agreed to a five-year contract. Terms were not announced, but a source close to the negotiations indicated Wade's annual base salary will be $50,000 to $80,000 and that he is likely to be the lowest-paid coach in the conference.
In his 10 years at Dunbar, where he coaches basketball and football and serves as athletic director, Wade's basketball teams have won 341 of 366 games and frequently have been ranked among the nation's top 10. In 1983, he was named national high school coach of the year by one publication.
Wade's football team is contending for a high school championship and, until that season ends Nov. 14, he will continue to coach at Dunbar and conduct Maryland basketball practices. Maryland's first practice is Saturday. Wade met with Slaughter and the Terrapins players tonight at Cole Field House. Afterward, in a television interview, Wade said, "We set the groundwork tonight. I told the players what I expected from them."
Slaughter said he and acting athletic director Chuck Sturtz considered a number of potential coaches, including Morgan Wootten of DeMatha High School. But, after talking to Georgetown Coach John Thompson, five of the other seven ACC coaches and Baltimore educators, they chose Wade.
At a midafternoon news conference at the Omni International Hotel, Slaughter said three factors weighed heavily: character, coaching ability and Wade's emphasis on academic achievement.
"All the things I wanted to see in a basketball coach were embodied in Bob Wade," Slaughter said. "His emphasis on academic attainment is completely in consonance with what we put into place."
Wade's basketball players spend two hours daily in a supervised after-school study hall during football season and an hour in what is called "coach's class" during the season.
Wade's selection was a surprise because most people expected Slaughter to choose an interim coach, since Maryland begins basketball practice Saturday and Driesell resigned only Wednesday.
"I was thoroughly convinced the worst mistake we could make was choose an interim coach, because it would continue the situation we've been in for another eight or nine months," Slaughter said. "We need to put some stability in our program."
Wade, a former professional football player with the Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins, stayed only a few minutes at the news conference, citing the need to return to Dunbar football practice. His attorney, Ron Shapiro, said the Baltimore school system had asked that Wade concentrate on Dunbar through the end of football season.
"I want to thank Dr. Slaughter and the University of Maryland for giving me the opportunity to work on the next level," he said. "It's something we've looked forward to all our lives. . . . I extend once again a wholehearted thank you to the chancellor and to the powers that have had the faith and confidence to trust the program in my hands."
Slaughter said he conducted a series of interviews with Wade lasting about two weeks and said a meeting Wednesday was the most important.
There was little haggling in negotiations. "It was a non-negotiation," Shapiro said, adding that the contract has not yet been signed. "They just got together and agreed."
Wade and Driesell had feuded publicly and, despite Dunbar producing some of the nation's top prospects, no Dunbar player has attended Maryland since Ernest Graham enrolled in 1977. Wade coached Reggie Williams and David Wingate, key players on Georgetown's NCAA championship team.
"Bob Wade has a good record," Slaughter said. "That record brought him to our attention. He understands recruiting. He will be a person who will be a good recruiter, and I believe he will have reasonable success in attracting Dunbar graduates to the university."
Slaughter said that Thompson told him Wade would be "an outstanding choice" and that several of the ACC coaches had said that if any high school coach could make the transition to big-time college basketball, it would be Wade.
The last time Maryland hired a high school coach was almost two decades ago. Roy Lester, highly successful as football coach at Richard Montgomery in Rockville, won only seven games in three seasons as Maryland's coach.
"There's always a question when you come out of the high school ranks," Slaughter said. "John Thompson came out of the high schools to win the NCAA. So there are success stories, and then there are stories like a Gerry Faust."
Maryland players contacted yesterday expressed surprise that Ron Bradley, Driesell's top assistant, was not named interim coach. Jack Jackson, the university's long-time baseball coach, citing the Lester experience, said Wade's hiring "shows the direction the university wants to go."
Slaughter has said he wants Maryland athletics to continue at a high competitive level but become academically sound. Academics have been uppermost in consideration at Maryland since the cocaine-induced death last summer of basketball star Len Bias and subsequent revelations of academic shortcomings of athletes.
Athletic Director Dick Dull resigned his position earlier this month, and Driesell accepted reassignment as an assistant athletic director.
Slaughter said he gave Wade a five-year contract because this will be a get-acquainted season with no chance to recruit, and most coaches get four years to prove themselves.
"He needs to see what his team is made of," Slaughter said.
Wade's style of play stresses fast-break offense and a number of swarming pressure defenses, a style similar to Georgetown's Thompson. When asked if he thought he was getting "another John Thompson," Slaughter replied:
"No, I just see him as an outstanding human being who's going to be a good basketball coach."