The University of Maryland is taking seriously the possibility that Lefty Driesell, the school's basketball coach the last 16 years, could become the coach at Old Dominion University in his home town of Norfolk.
A preliminary list of potential successors has been drawn up and is in the athletic department, sources said yesterday. The list includes Gary Williams, the Boston College coach who is a Maryland alumnus; DeMatha High School Coach Morgan Wootten, who was considered for the job 16 years ago; Gene Bartow of Alabama-Birmingham and formerly UCLA; and a trio of former Driesell assistants: Rutgers' Tom Young, Iowa's George Raveling and George Mason's Joe Harrington.
James Jarrett, the director of athletics at Old Dominion, asked for and was given permission on Friday by Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull to talk with Driesell about the vacant head coaching job. Dull said yesterday he did not know whether Jarrett and Driesell had talked about the job, and Dull declined further comment.
Driesell was reported by his office to be on vacation for two weeks and unavailable for comment. He has been in Norfolk this summer, but the visits have been in connection with the recruitment of high school star J.R. Reid.
Old Dominion reportedly is prepared to offer a raise to Driesell -- whose salary at Maryland is reported to be in excess of $125,000 -- plus a home.
Driesell, 53, came to Maryland from Davidson in 1969 and has been one of the most successful coaches in the nation the last 20 years. He won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in 1984 and 25 games last year, including two in the NCAA tournament. But Maryland lost in a lopsided Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game to Duke, then lost in the NCAA tournament to Villanova.
A source close to the athletic department indicated yesterday that Driesell has expressed concern about what he believes is a shifting emphasis at Maryland from basketball to football, where Coach Bobby Ross' team is ranked in the top 10 in several national preseason polls. Even so, Driesell's budget has been increased from approximately $380,000 to $750,000 over the past four years.
Basketball unquestionably is the top priority at Old Dominion, where the women's team long has been a national power. The Scope, where the Monarchs play, seats 10,253 and the school is a prominent member of the Sun Belt Conference. But Old Dominion would have to lure Driesell away from a school of national importance that plays in the much more prestigious ACC.