Renaldo (Skeets) Nehemiah, the world record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, has forfeited his track scholarship at the University of Maryland and will not compete for the Terrapins next year.
"I'm through running for Maryland," Nehemiah said yesterday. "Once I leave, I leave. I'm not going to say I might come back if I like the new track coach.
"There's nothing that can make me leave school though." Nehemiah is a junior TV and radio major. "That would be an ignorant stand on my part. I plan on working next fall so not having a scholarship shouldn't be a problem."
Nehemiah, the 1979 Pan American Games gold medal winner in the hurdles event, is currently competing for the D.C. International Track Club. His decision to compete for D.C. International in the Kansas Relays this past weekend while Maryland was losing the Atlantic Coast Conference championship for the first time in 25 years was the focal point of a dispute Monday between Frank Costello, Maryland track coach, and the track club.
D.C. International club members, most of whom regularly train at Maryland -- Fred Sowerby, head coach, is a part-time assistant coach with the Terps -- arrived Monday to fine a sign posted forbidding them to use any of Maryland's facilities. The only exceptions were Nehemiah and other club members who are Maryland students. Yesterday, all team members -- Nehemiah included -- trained at Coolidge High School.
The current rift is apparently the culmination of three years of infighting between Costello and Nehemiah. Costello announced last month that he is resigning effective June 1.
Reportedly, Costello was so upset when Nehemiah decided three weeks ago not to compete for Maryland this spring, that he took Nehemiah's pictures off the wall in the track office.
"I'm not going to let a difficulty with one individual spoil my happiness," Nehemiah said yesterday. "I like the people here (at Maryland) and I like the area.
"Coach and I don't get along, that's a known fact. We've been keeping it low key. I'm not going to run away from my problems. He's one person. I don't need him to be successful. I can go out there and do my own thing. I can go out and win a race and Frank Costello can hate my guts or the university can hate my guts."
Nehemiah also expressed some bitterness towards the university.
"Maryland had nothing to do with me becoming No. 1," he said. "I just went to school here, I was developed before I got here. I did more for them than they did for me. They gave me an athletic scholarship and I gave them notoriety.
"I could have gotten anything they gave me at any other school."
Nehemiah said he did not understand the Olympic boycott, but added, "I feel good in a way. I achieved what others didn't achieve. I've been No. 1 for two years. I've got all the world records."
Nehemiah denied reports that he has already signed a contract with the Puma Shoe Company but also said, "Lots of people like them have been talking to me.
"As long as I can compete for (D.C. International) and go to school that's all that's important to me," Nehemiah said. "If someone's upset that's their problem. Frank Costello's upset, I'm not upset. Him tearing my pictures down isn't tearing something down in my apartment.
"He doesn't want to talk to me as of this date." Nehemiah said the last time he and Costello talked was eight days ago. Asked if the conversation was civil, he said, "Not really."
When Nehemiah was a freshman there were reports he was unhappy with Costello for using him in too many events and was considering a transfer to the University of Southern California.
"The transfer talk was to let him (Costello) know I was one person and I was here for one purpose: to run high hurdles and hopefully to become the best high hurdler in the world," Nehemiah said, "I felt my talents were being exploited.
"Coach Costello and I have had problems the whole three years I've been here . . . "
Costello was reported out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.