The National Invitation Tournament issued a bid to the University of Maryland yesterday and then withdrew it when athletic director Jim Kehoe refused to accept at Maryland-at-Old Dominion pairing in the first round.
A spokesman for Pete Carlesimo of Fordham, NIT selection committee chairman, accused Kehoe of trying to dictate terms to the five-man selection committee.
But Kehoe said the NIT offer caught him by surprise and that he had expected a first-round game in the Washington area against either Georgetown or George Washington. He said that Carlesimo gave him a 30-minute time limit to accept.
Kehoe said he was unable to reach any of his associates at Maryland and that coach Lefty Driesell had no part in the decision. Driesell reportedly was recruiting in Baltimore and Kehoe could not reach him.
Shortly after Carlesimo withdrew the bid to Maryland, Georgtown accepted an NIT bid to play Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Blacksburg.
It will be the Hoyas' third trip to the NIT, which expanded to a 16-team format this year with eight regional winners advanfinals in New York starting March, 14.
Concerning the Maryland NIT bid, Kehoe said, "Lefty was not involved in it because I couldn't find Lefty. He wasn't available. I called his home . . . I had only a half-hour to work with."
"I resent Carlesimo giving me an utlimatum," Kehoe added. "I'm not going to schedule anything until I talk with the head basketball coach or the head football coach."
Thus Maryland's season ended with a 19-8 record, the first time in six seasons the Terps failed to win 20 games. They dropped an 82-72 decision to North Carolina State in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last week, after which Driesell said he would accept an NIT bid.
"I don't care how the players feel," Driesell said after the N.C. State game. "Mine is the only vote that counts; there ain't going to be any vote but mine."
Driesell could not be reached for comment last night.
Maryland won the NIT tournament in 1972, ending a 27-5 season that started the streak of the five straight 20-win seasons. But the Maryland-NIT relationship has been a stormy one since then.
Maryland twice rejected NIT bids, in 1974 and 1976. According to one NIT source, the Terps had told the committee in those years that they would be receptive to an NIT bid of they did not go to the NCAA playoffs, only to decline invitations.
There was some questions this year whether the NIT would retaliate by snubbing the Terrapins when Maryland need NIT competition to post a 20-win season.
"The bid was withdrawn by the committee," said Jim Wergeles, a spokesman for the five-man selection committee. "We wanted them to play somewhere other than Maryland. Maryland wanted to play at home and a team on its schedule."
"The committee feels that this being an invitational tournament, he (Kehoe) should accept on the basis of the invitation. No one is going to dictate on what terms they would come into this tournament."
Kehoe contended that the Old Dominion bid caught him unprepared. He said that he had read of the Georgetownin-at-Maryland possibility and had gotten approval of such a game from Dr. Jack Faber, Maryland's faculty athletic chairman, and from Driesell.
Kehoe said that he figured either Georgetown or GW would be a natural draw in the Washington area. Maryland and Georgetown did not play this season because of a scheduling conflict; GW upset the Terps, 86-76, for the Colonials' first win over Maryland in 17 years.
When Kehoe told Carlesimo he could not give him an answer on the NIT bid, the Fordham athletic director told Kehoe he could give him a half-hour. Kehoe could contact neither Driesell nor Faber. Then Carlesimo called back.
"Will you or won't you accept?" Kehoe quoted Carlesimo as saying. "Give me an answer now or we'll withdraw the invitation."
"Withdraw it," Kehoe replied.