On the organizational chart, Lefty Driesell is an assistant athletic director in charge of sports information at the University of Maryland. In reality, his duties are unclear. His position is a nebulous one, at times uneasy for Driesell and some administrative and athletic officials in College Park.

What remains the same, however, is the enormous size of the shadow he casts. For sure, you can put Lefty Driesell in a corner, but you can't hide him. Bob Wade may be the basketball coach, Joe Krivac the football coach and Lew Perkins the athletic director, but Driesell is still the most recognizable figure on Maryland's campus.

But what does Driesell, the Terrapins' former basketball coach and once master of all he surveyed at Cole Field House, do?

First, he answers three phone lines at once and booms an order at a cordial secretary. He wanders to the gym floor, where he slumps in a chair and eyes some of the 380 youngsters who have signed up for his annual basketball camp, which in itself has become a media event. At his desk, he slaps open a window for a breath of tepid air; on the desk is prominently displayed a sign that reads, "If the Going is Getting Easier, You Ain't Climbing."

"It's not like I haven't touched a basketball," he said. "I'm still involved in the game. I'm not selling encyclopedias or something."

Last October, in the aftermath of star player Len Bias' cocaine-induced death, Driesell was forced to step down as Maryland's basketball coach. After 17 successful years at Maryland, and a total of 31 as a coach, he was reassigned as an assistant athletic director in charge of no one knew quite what.

So what does he really do?

"Right now," said new athletic director Perkins, "not much."

Under the terms of his settlement with the university negotiated by attorney Edward Bennett Williams, Driesell's 10-year contract was replaced by an eight-year deal. If he stays for the entire eight years, he will receive in excess of $1.1 million in salary and benefits.

At first, it seemed likely Driesell would try to coach elsewhere. Now, it appears he may be staying for some time. His chances of coaching an NBA expansion team in Charlotte, N.C., reportedly have slipped in the aftermath of his widely circulated statements (which Driesell said were taken out of context) voiced at an antidrug seminar in Rhode Island that cocaine could enhance performances of athletes.

Nor was his program's reputation helped by the last year's investigations and university task force reports following Bias' death and the recent trial of Brian Lee Tribble, who was acquitted by a Prince George's County Circuit Court jury in May on charges he supplied the cocaine that killed Bias.

Driesell, who was originally a favorite to coach the Charlotte team, said he has not heard from owner George Shinn lately. "I don't know what's going on. I'm in left field on that," he said. Shinn did not return phone calls.

Driesell has clarified his Providence remarks, which were in fact made during a vehement antidrug speech. He also calls the controversy "ludicrous," and says if it affected his coaching marketability, he doesn't care.

"People who know me know what I stand for," he said. "If that made a difference to someone, then I don't want to work there, anyway. I really don't need a job. I've got an excellent job that pays well until I'm 62. After that, I probably won't want to coach, anyway."

Last April, he rejected an offer to become head coach at Southern Alabama.

"I'm comfortable," he said of his role at Maryland. "This is what the university wanted, not me. I'm complying with their wishes. What I'm getting is what was promised me in a 10-year contract. I guess the university is just living up to its agreement."

Perkins, who was hired last month, says it is time for Driesell to take up some active duties in the department, and Driesell agrees. What those duties will be is not clear because Perkins is still acquainting himself with the department. But Perkins contends that Driesell's strength is his personality and the fabled salesmanship that once made him a walking advertisement for Maryland basketball, and right now his energy is largely unchanneled.

"Lew wants me to get more involved in the department, do something constructive," Driesell said. "I said I will do whatever he wants me to do."

Since stepping down, Driesell has gone his own way. He spent most of his time last season doing televised "Truthfully, I've enjoyed not having to recruit and not having to worry about who's passing or who's in trouble. People don't realize the responsibility. It's like having 15 children."

-- Lefty Driesell

commentary on Atlantic Coast Conference games for the Jefferson-Pilot network, and has agreed to do 20 more games next year. There is the occasional speaking engagement and, in July, he will coach a basketball team at the Olympic Festival in Chapel Hill, N.C. His camp will resume at the end of July. He uses the Maryland facilities under the terms of his agreement, but the camp is independent from the university. And so are his speeches, according to Perkins, who, after Driesell's remarks in Providence, said Driesell will be talking for himself and not the university at such forums.

Clearly, the relationship between Driesell and Maryland has been at arm's length since he stepped down. That Driesell's office at Cole Field House is down the hall from the basketball office where Wade is preparing for his second season is certainly a unique positioning of personnel.

"I don't think either side really gets anything out of it," said Randy Hoffman, the school's former associate athletic director who became athletic director at San Jose State in the spring. "That's not a poor reflection on Lefty. His expertise is as a coach and a salesman for a program. He's not in that capacity, so he's not benefiting. Nor is the university benefiting, because he is not afforded the opportunity to exercise those skills."

If someone can bridge the gap, it is Perkins. Driesell met with the athletic director after his comments about cocaine received nationwide attention. Driesell said he found Perkins to be a straight talker and has now met with him several times about his role.

"We do need to get him involved," Perkins said. "It hasn't been Lefty's fault. It's as much ours as his. As we reorganize the whole department, we'll figure out what value he can bring to it, and what responsibilities. I'm a firm believer that he needs to contribute to the department if he has a job there."

A new role for Driesell may also relieve some tension that results from having two basketball coaches in the same building. Wade and Driesell have had their problems in the past. As a high school coach at Dunbar in Baltimore, Wade sent just one player to Maryland, Ernest Graham. Those at Cole Field House say that, so far, most problems have been averted, but that is probably because Driesell and Wade have little or no contact.

"I thought it would be horrendous," Hoffman said. "But it wasn't."

Mainly, Driesell's presence automatically invites comparison with Wade, but both have dealt with that situation diplomatically. Wade said he has not experienced any problems with old loyalties to Driesell; Maryland supporters have seemed eager to get the program going again. He also says he would welcome any new role for Driesell.

"We don't really interact," Wade said. "I might see Coach Driesell in passing. But he has a busy schedule and so do I. We're just going in opposite directions. I get along with the people I work with. They've been very cooperative and receptive, and they're trying to do their best for the program. Mr. Perkins is the athletic director and whatever ideas he has to help the total program I have no problem with. Coach Driesell and I both work for the same program and the same cause."

Driesell has never been one to sit quietly; he always has been a man of great sound and movement. "I don't really care what people think of me," he said in a recent interview. "I never have. People who know me also know what I stand for."

But people who know him also wonder how happy he can be in a job apparently unsuited to him. It is obvious to friends that he misses the game. He does stay in contact with it, through old colleagues like former player and assistant Terry Holland, the Virginia coach; Joe Harrington, now coach at Long Beach State, and former Northwestern High School coach Bob Wagner, who coached Bias, and also resigned in the wake of the player's death, although it was unrelated.

"I can't tell if he's fooling me or not," Wagner said. "But he claims he feels comfortable in that office. If he has any feelings about it, I think he puts them behind the dollar sign."

"He obviously misses the game a great deal," Holland said. "But having a chance to stay close to it through the television and his camp helps. I can't imagine that there wouldn't be some adjustment both for Lefty and others {at Maryland}."

But if Driesell has a burning desire to coach again, he doesn't show that, either. He maintains he will not leap at the first available job, and would not take a considerable cut in pay or go to a school where he does not have a chance to win. Of course, his options are also limited. His salary is prohibitive, and he also is loath to give up the life style to which he has become accustomed, including his beach house on the Delaware shore.

"I coached for 31 years and I think I proved myself," he said. "If the right job came along, I might be interested, but I wouldn't do it unless one came open that I really wanted. I'm just going to sit back and let nature take its course.

"I've already got an excellent job here. I'm not going to take a cut in pay just to coach, or go somewhere that I don't have a chance to win. I like this area. I've lived here for 18 years. And I've got a beach house I love. I'm not going away just to be coaching."

Then there is the reality that there are few job opportunities at present, attractive or not.

"He seems to be very level-headed about it," Holland said. "I don't see him so antsy to get back into it that he would take a situation that isn't right. The other side of it is whether these jobs are going to be available to him. That I just don't know. But time has a way of healing things."

Driesell also contends there are advantages to not coaching. As he frequently likes to put it, "I'm undefeated." He never enjoyed recruiting or the headaches of supervising a Maryland team that was somewhat troubled. But he does miss the ACC competition. If there are no more hurtful losses, there are also no more great victories.

"Truthfully, I've enjoyed not having to recruit and not having to worry about who's passing or who's in trouble," he said. "People don't realize the responsibility. It's like having 15 children. You love them, but you worry about them . . . But I have missed the teaching, the competition and getting to hang around and know the kids. And I miss the on-court coaching, and the winning. Like beating Carolina."

One interesting side effect of Driesell's resignation is that he may have become more popular with the fans. He is greeted warmly when he goes to other schools to telecast games, even those where he was once vilified. He had some good reviews as a color commentator, and friends say they have enjoyed talking to him this year, as he has become a more relaxed, thoughtful person away from the game.

"I think he's forever learning," Harrington said. "Whatever happens to him, good or bad, he profits from it. I think he's a special guy, even though most people won't say that now. He makes mistakes, but he's done a lot of good . . . . I think college basketball missed him last year. But people also got a chance to see him differently, like on TV. They saw his humor. He had a chance to visit with people under less stressful situations."

There is also an element of sympathy in others' reaction to him. ACC coaches, including Holland, North Carolina's Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, supported him publicly during the Bias controversy and objected to his forced resignation. They contend the events of last summer were probably beyond his control. Also, criticism of his academic policies has gradually faded, and Driesell is quick to point out that two more of his former players obtained degrees this spring: Jeff Baxter and Herman Veal. Another, Speedy Jones, is in school and is expected to get his degree this summer.

"Most people feel like he sort of took the rap for a lot of things that were not in his control," Holland said. "That he's certainly paid his dues in every respect."

Driesell was often criticized as an active coach. Now, his accomplishments, such as 524 career victories and what was the second-best winning percentage among active coaches, have become more respected in his absence.

"I think people are definitely warmer now," he said. "They say, 'We miss you.' When I was coaching, they'd say something like, 'You should have won the ACC.' Now that I'm out of it, maybe they appreciate what I did a little more. That's one positive thing that came out of all this."