Kris Kirchner, the University of Maryland's all-time leading women's basketball scorer and a 1980 all-America, has decided to leave the school and probably will attend Rutgers in the fall.
Kirchner, a 6-foot-4 forward, in town as a member of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, said yesterday that differences with Maryland Coach Chris Weller precipitated her decision. Kirchner has one year of eligibility remaining.
There were differences for three years," Kirchner said. "I really made my decision in February. I tried to make it work for years. I finally decided I couldn't."
Asked if the differences centered on basketball or life style, Kirchner answered, "Both there were several incidents over the years but I'd rather not talk about them."
Kirchner refused to discuss her future but said, "I'll know more when I get back home (to New Providence, N.J.). I should know what I'm going to do Friday." It is expected that Kirchner will announce Friday that she is transferring to Rutgers, which is near her home. Unlike a male athlete governed by NCAA rules, Kirchner, under the rules of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women would not have to sit out a year after transferring. She could play for Rutgers this season.
Kirchner is one of several players who have left Maryland in recent seasons. Two years ago Betsy Bailey from Annandale and forward Gail Hok from Rockville transferred to Colorado. Maryland, ACC champion during Kirchner's first two years in school, lost that title to N.C. State last season.
Kirchner scored 20.9 points per game last season, a school record, and averaged 12.1 rebounds. Maryland was ranked sixth in the final AIAW basketball poll. In Kirchner's freshman year the Terps reached the national championship game but lost to UCLA.
Terrapin Coach Chris Weller said last night that Kirchner first brought up the idea of transferring during the Olympics trails.
"We sat down and talked about it on a couple of occasions," Weller said. "I didn't know we had as many differences as Kris seems to think we had.
"Kris had a tough year," Weller continued. "Even though we won a lot of games it was a rebuilding year for us. She had to work with a lot of younger players. She didn't make the Parade All-America team and the Olympics were canceled."
Told that Kinchner had cited differences over lifestyle and basketball as part of her season for leaving, Weller said, "That surprises me."
Weller said she was disappointed to lose Kirchner but didn't look upon it as a death blow to the program. "We've had four players transfer," she said, "but this is the first one who left because she was unhappy with the program as a whole. The others basically left because of playing time. It was more or less mutual agreement. bThis wasn't.
"Her leaving will hurt the program somewhat but it won't kill or destroy it. It isn't a loss we can't rebound from. At this point, I think the less said the better I don't want to get into dozens of reasons even through there was more than one."