Jim Kehoe took command of the University of Maryland athletic department as the loyal soldier. In his first public amplification of his split with chancellor Robert Gluckstern, Kehoe said he would retire as the loyal soldier.
In the course of a two-hour interview with The Washington Post this week in his College Park office, it became apparent that their differences, which Gluckstern has called minor and to be expected in the course of academic management, left them worlds apart philosophically.
Kehoe talked in his office, books by generals MacArthur, Marshall and Patton on the shelf behind him. Pictures of Churchill, Lee and Lombardi adorn his walls, blend with memorabilia of 23 years as the university track coach.
"The chancellor is the boss. He's in charge.He's the final authority," Kehoe said. "I will do my best to implement his orders or I have another alternative. You do it his way, comply with his wishes, or else."
Last week, Kehoe, after nine years as athletic director during the Terrapin's return to national prominence, he exercised his alternative. He will retire Sept. 1, at age 60.
"I had hoped and prayed for an uneventful, low-key retirement," he said yesterday. "I don't understand it. I came into this thing under controversy. I've been in the middle of controversy since I got here and look what happens when I try desperately to avoid controversy when I leave. What do I get? Controversy."
Kehoe said he had timed news of his intentions to retire so that he would be out of town, at the annual ACC meetings in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"Knowingly or unknowingly, I don't want to protrude upon the system," Kehoe said. "I support the system. Maybe he (the chancellor) has a larger view of things. Maybe there were larger and greater considerations of things from where he sat."
It was Gluckstern who brought to light Kehoe's resignation letter in which Kehoe cited "tensions with the chancellor." These tensions were described by one of Kehoe's closest associates and friends as "unpleasantries", causing Kehoe to make what he now calls his "non-negotiable decision" to retire and not stay another year, despite influential athletic boosters wanting otherwise.
Gluckstern pointed to three major areas of "minor differences" - the makeup of the school's athletic council, Kehoe's public dealings with the student press at Maryland and dealings with the faculty senate.
Yesterday, in response to questions, Kehoe said he felt his management independence was being compromised at the expense of political considerations in his two greatest areas of controversy: Title IX legislation barring sex bias in athletics and in mandatory student athletic fees.
Sources said their differences started almost from the day Gluckstern arrived at College Park.
Kehoe cited tougher internal and state controls, affirmative action, and Title IX as problems that affected his authoritarian hand and made him spend much of his time postulating on what he called position papers.
"I would not tolerate interference. You've got to be protected from all interference which harasses you and protrudes on your ability to do this. It must be understood that the departments must be protected from interference.
"And while I understand the political considerations that are involved in these things - students do pay the fee and the faculty is part of what is No. 1 here, the education process - by the same token, to permit this . . . is ill-advised, it dilutes your authority, takes your time.
"It accommodates interests and concerns that are political, and I can pay no bills with any political judgment or consideration."
Kehoe acknowledges that he has not changed with the times since being appointed athletic director nine years ago by former Maryland president Wilson H. Elkins. He says he could build a successful program again, but he wants to spend some time with his wife, hunt deer, hike in the Rockies and attend the track meets he missed because of work.
That effort, which he called traumatic at times, made possible a profit in every year as the Terps' athletic director. He took over a program with decaying facilities and a $170,000 debt and made over $1 million profit.
All of that, Kehoe said, was used to improve athletic facilities on the College Park campus.
Kehoe said that, besides hard work and dedication, the key to his success has been anticipating problems still two or three years in the future. He claimed that is why he can be profitable while 97 percent of the nation's other schools are losing money.
"Other directors are too optimistic," Kehoe said. "You can't wait until you have a $150,000 deficit to deal with it."
Kehoe said he was able to anticipate "every problem but one" that he says has faced intercollegiate athletics in the past decade, including inflation. What he did not anticipate was Title 9.
"For the thousandth time, I philosophically support Title 9, that my daughter should have the same opportunity as my son."
Kehoe reiterated he opposed Title 9 at Maryland on financial grounds. When he got the financing - through additional mandatory student fees - he implemented a program that has become one of the best in the nation.
But, many of his female employes continue to view him as a stout chauvinist.
His greatest accomplishment as athletic director, Kehoe said, also was the most controversial: keeping and then increasing the mandatory fee. That $1 million, plus Maryland's share of ACC revenues gives the Terps a firm financial base in case of lean years. The 23-sport budget is $3 million.