Every major-college athletic department needs a man like Sully Krouse.
Krouse, who has a 40-year-long association with the University of Maryland and has spent 30 years as its varsity wrestling coach, is the gadfly of athletics at College Park.
The Maryland department is dominated by athletic director Jim Kehoe. According to insiders, one of the few staff members willing to disagree with Kehoe to his face.
"I decided a long time ago I'm going to be like Harry Truman," Krouse said. "'Give 'em hell, Sully'."
When NBC televised the NCAA wrestling championships in 1972, the network wanted to replace one of the mat for color reasons. Krouse refused. The mat that NBC wanted to replace had the Maryland seal on it and Krouse saw the mat's recruiting value. Krouse won.
Recently, in a television interview, Krouse explained why North Carolina State and Virginia had surpassed the Terps in wrestling, a sport in which Maryland won the first 18 ACC championships and ran up 83 straight dual-match wins in the ACC and in the old Southern Conference.
Krouse explained that these schools had hired wrestling coaches and put scholarship money into the sport, that Maryland couldn't get the same wrestlers it once recruited, that Terrapin wrestlers worked - actually worked - for part of their scholarships and that most of the tuition aid came from the university's general-need scholarships.
The next day, Krouse and one of Kehoe's chief aides discussed what the wrestling coach had said on television. Krouse slowly and logically explained the problem to the Kehoe aide, who finally said, "It might be true, but you didn't have to say it."
Krouse does not blame Kehoe for the situation, maily because Kehoe was not in charge when Maryland football plummeted to its pre-Jerry Clairborne depths.
Krouse said he has never been denied any budget request by Kehoe. He also adds that he has never asked for anything outrageous because he is aware of the money crunch caused by inflation and because the Terps are still paying the price for letting football decline after the Jim Tatum glory days.
"It really is a vicious circle," Krouse said. "A program down in football usually parallels everything else. A guy's on top and they say he's cheating, which he isn't. Then the administration cuts back and the alumni lose interest because you aren't winning.
"So they fire the poor guy and give the new guy everthing they took away from the other gury."
Now, Maryland football teams are winning again and going to major bowls, and Krouse figures wrestling will soon get the money and scholarships needed to make the Terp program competitive.
Krouse is an adroit businessman. He earns somes extra spending money by selling the ads for the 204-page Maryland football and basketball program. He will coach one more year at Maryland so that he can host the 1978 NCAA wrestling championships. It will be the third appearance for the championships here in 16 years. When Maryland las hosted them, in 1972, the NCAA cleared $100,000 for the first time in its wrestling tournament history. The Terps will host the ACC tournament Friday and Saturday.
If the name Krouse is familiar, it should be. His late brother, Ray, was an all-America tackle for Maryland and later an all-pro who played for the Lions, Giants, Colts and Redskins.
Krouse's obstinate, outspoken reputation rests on firm ground. He backs down from no one, and that includes basketball coach Lefty Driesell.
Krouse thinks that some people take themselves too seriously, which is the main reason why he nicknamed Driesell "Dribblepuss" shortly after his arrival at College Park eight years ago.
"Well, he coaches basketball," said Krouse, explaining the "Deibble." "And look at his face; he's always got a puss on him, looking like he's mad all the time. You look at Lefty; how many times have you seen him smile? I'm mean, but I like to smile and joke.
A couple of Drisell-Krouse run-ins are hall-of-fame candidates.
One occurred without a work exchanged. Floor time in Cole Field House is valuable and Drisell, as the coach who generates the revenue, has first crack at it. On this particular day, Krouse had a 7:30 p.m. wrestling match and Driesell had agreed to be finished with practice by 6.
Well, Driesell found reason to be upset with his team's performance and practice continued past 6 p.m. About 6:15, with workmen pushing the wrestling mat toward the floor, Krouse got Driesell's attention. Krouse pointed at the watch on his wrist, then gave Driesell the thumb. Practice promptly ended.
The Great Sauna Room Key Debate is still recalled with great amusement around the athletic department. It put squarely Kehoe in the middle between Driesell and Krouse, who is responsible for the sauna and steam room in Cole Field House.
"It's a very dangerous place. It's no place to be playing around. You can bet dehydrated quickly. One assistant football coach almost died in there a few years ago," Krouse said.
"I've got a couple of rules: you can't be in there alone and you must take a shower before and strip down because of odors. If you don't believe me about odors, ask one of our wrestlers about the sauna at another ACC school I won't name."
Driesell wanted to use the sauna. Krouse said sure, as long as Driesell followed the rules. He even gave the coach a key. When Krouse found his sauna a miss, he changed locks. Driesell complained to Kehoe. Krouse told Kehoe the sauna was run by Krouse's rules.
The solution: Krouse gave trainer Spider Fry a key. Fry flushed it down the toilet, Krouse said. So Driesell got another key.
Krouse again found the sauna in disarray. Krouse again changed locks. Again, Kehoe was called in to arbitrate. Kehoe suggested Krouse give Lefty another key. Krouse suggested that Kehoe put someone else in charge of the sauna and steam room.
Finally, Krouse prevailed, telling Kehoe: "If somebody's found dead in there in the morning, it's not my fault."
"The lefthander is kind of tough," Krouse said."He's going to do it his way, I guess."
Krouse has always done things his way. The rules for his athletes are similar to those of football coach Jerry Claiborne, and Krouse is said to police his athletes and enforce the rules even more stringently.
He is from the old school of discipline: no girls in the rooms, no booze, no drugs. He dislikes long hair, but recently gave in to the extent of buying two hair dryers for his wrestlers this year.
"At least if I can't get them to cut it short," reasoned Krouse, "they won't go out and catch colds."
Krouse had one of those strict Catholic upbringings. He grew up at 3307 O St. NW, in an area that now consists of $150,000-plus townhouses. In his youth, these townhouses were known as row houses and Krouse says, "I was raised in, the ghetto and I didn't know it. "He is fond of recalling how his boyhood liking for fist fights left him blind in one eye and how he never realized it until his Western High School football coach wondered why he was such easy prey for the trap block.
"It was dog eat dog in those days," Krouse remembers. "It was a neighborhood of mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, people who worked at the rendering plant - Hoffmeyer's. I know, I can still smell it."
Krouse knew the values of money. One night he and a couple of friends went to one of those old-time circuses where anybody who could avoid getting pinned by the house man would earn $5. Krouse did it; the circus wouldn't pay off. The next night Krouse returned with his football teammates and did it again; this time the bouse paid.
Although he was a star football player at Western ( he was big then and is now - 6-foot-3, 300 pounds) Krouse was no student, taking a general curriculum that required two years of prep school in order for him to be accepted at Virginia Military Institute.
A VMI education qualified a student for an Army commission. So VMI had an eyesight requirement. Krouse figured he was such a great football player the school would give him a waiver. He was wrong. At that point, Leroy Mackert, the Maryland assistant, drove to Lexington and whisked Krouse back to College Park.
As a sophomore, Krouse failed to make the traveling team because, at coach Frank Dobson's insistence, he had lost 100 pounds, to a svelte 225, and was weakened.
The Terps were playing Syracuse, and Krouse, who had a friend in a Syracuse fraternity, took the band bus to the school, partied, got a date and took her to the game. At some point, a Maryland athletic official approached Krouse and asked him if he would spot for the radio crew. Krouse said no. The official said it paid $10 plus free Cokes and hot dogs.
Krouse accepted the job, and immediately stuffed himself with hot dogs and Cokes. Soon, two Maryland tackles were injured, and the coach sent word to the press box for Krouse to come down and suit up. He reportedly played well.