Seven weeks after orally agreeing to a new contract, Bobby Ross made it official yesterday, signing to coach football at the University of Maryland for four more years.
Ross said he never had considered leaving Maryland, even though he had been rumored to be a candidate for a number of jobs in both the college and professional ranks.
"I knew from day one that I would sign," Ross said. "I felt it was unfair. There were comments that I was holding out for other jobs, and that wasn't the case at all. I resented it, so from that respect I'm glad it's behind me."
Most of the speculation stemmed from a series of delays in finalizing the contract, which Ross had approved in principle on Dec. 6. Ross had said then he hoped to sign within a week, but it took far longer for the coach, Athletic Director Dick Dull and attorneys for both sides to conclude negotiations.
Ross would not discuss the exact terms of his contract. It is believed to include a base salary of $85,000, with a radio-television package worth another $65,000, as well as use of an automobile and a house estimated at $250,000, which was purchased by university alumni last spring and in which Ross will continue to live. In addition, he will be eligible for a $15,000 annual annuity from private contributions in two years.
Dull also would not elaborate on the contract, but reiterated there had been no major issues preventing Ross from signing.
"It is a personal matter concerning the coach and his family and I want to respect that confidentiality," Dull said.
Much of the delay, Dull said, resulted from each man's heavy travel schedule. Ross has been on the road recruiting from Monday through Thursday; Dull has attended both Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA conventions during the past month.
"It's a good commitment," Dull said. "I think it's a demonstration that Bobby Ross is very pleased with Maryland and that Maryland is very pleased with Bobby Ross. I think the timing caused a lot of speculation that there were disagreements in some critical areas, but that wasn't the case. We've really only had three opportunities to talk details since Christmas."
Speculation over Ross' future first began when he turned down a 10-year contract to coach at Maryland last spring, opting instead for a one-year agreement that expired last month after he directed the Terrapins to their fourth straight bowl. Among Ross' concerns in declining to sign the 10-year deal were various improvements to Byrd Stadium, and a set of written guidelines he requested to help him in the admissions process, both of which Maryland has agreed to provide.
Both Ross and Dull had said the contract could be signed by this past Monday, but another holdup ensued over some revisions made by Ross' attorney, whom he has declined to name. The issues were resolved in a lengthy morning meeting yesterday, and Ross signed the final version as it came out of the typewriter shortly before noon, Dull said.
Ross has led Maryland to three straight ACC titles and a 34-14 record in his four years there. In addition to improving Maryland's football fortunes, he also has had an impact on its attendance figures. The Terrapins averaged 51,546 fans at home this season, 20,446 more than in the 1981 season, just before Ross' arrival.
Among the jobs Ross was rumored and reported to be a candidate for this season were at Notre Dame, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, as well as the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League.
"The only thing I've ever looked into was Minnesota," Ross said. "I did talk to Pittsburgh, but I withdrew my name way back, contrary to rumor."
Dull said he was not concerned that Ross might be looking elsewhere once he had agreed in principle to stay.
"I never believed Bobby intended to leave," Dull said. "Every time a job comes up there is speculation about him. He told me he was not involved in any of that, and he has never once lied to me. I believed him from day one."