Since he took over before the 2011-2012 season, Turgeon compiled a 226-116 record — including five NCAA tournament appearances, all in the past seven seasons — and was named the Big Ten coach of the year in 2015. Maryland won the Big Ten regular season title in 2020 and was in position for a high seed in the NCAA tournament that year before the postseason was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. With Turgeon at the helm, the Terps advanced to the Sweet 16 only once and never made it further in the NCAA tournament.
This season, Turgeon had a team filled with transfers as the Terps tried to rebound from an up-and-down 2020-21 campaign that included a 9-11 record in conference play and ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Turgeon’s midseason resignation comes after the team started 5-3 and suffered back-to-back losses, including a defeat against Virginia Tech at home Wednesday in what turned out to be his final game. Turgeon and the players left the court to scattered boos from the crowd at Xfinity Center.
“After several in depth conversations with Damon, I have decided that the best thing for Maryland Basketball, myself and my family is to step down, effective immediately, as the head coach of Maryland Basketball,” Turgeon said in a news release. “I have always preached that Maryland Basketball is bigger than any one individual. My departure will enable a new voice to guide the team moving forward.”
Maryland players found out about Turgeon’s departure during an emotional team meeting at 1 p.m. Friday after Turgeon’s staff was informed of the news roughly 15 minutes earlier, a person familiar with the situation said. A person close to the team said “no one really saw it coming” and “everyone was in shock.” That person said Turgeon hadn’t been himself and it seemed as if the discontent from fans had taken a toll.
Manning begins his stint as interim coach with Maryland set to start conference play Sunday afternoon against Northwestern. The Terps were scheduled to have another team meeting and practice Friday evening. Manning could elevate another staff member to serve as a third assistant coach, but the school has not announced any such move. Manning is not scheduled to speak publicly until after Sunday’s game.
Manning, a longtime friend and former teammate of Turgeon’s at Kansas, joined the Terps as an assistant in April after serving as head coach at Wake Forest from 2014 to 2020 and at Tulsa from 2012 to 2014. During his six seasons with the Demon Deacons, Manning had a 78-111 record and one NCAA tournament appearance. Wake Forest fired Manning in 2020. He worked with ESPN during a brief hiatus from coaching before Turgeon hired him at Maryland.
Manning was one of two new assistants this season, with Bruce Shingler also joining the staff after the Terps lost DeAndre Haynes to Marquette and longtime assistant Bino Ranson to DePaul. Turgeon also had to replace multiple support staffers this past offseason.
Turgeon reached a crossroads of sorts after last season when he had two years remaining on his contract. In April, Turgeon signed an incentive-laden contract extension through the 2025-26 season, adding three years to the deal. At the time, Evans said in a statement he and Turgeon were “in agreement of the expectations for our program as we move forward.”
Athletic department officials viewed this extension as a school-friendly deal — if Maryland fired Turgeon, this new contract didn’t guarantee a buyout worth the full remaining value. (Those were the terms of Turgeon’s contract before the extension.) The deal signed in the spring heavily prioritized tournament runs to the Sweet 16 and beyond, as well as conference titles. Reaching those milestones would have triggered automatic extensions and increased the buyout if Maryland fired Turgeon.
According to the terms of Turgeon’s contract, which was obtained through an open records request, the school would owe him $5 million if it fired him before May 2022. According to a team spokesman, Maryland is honoring the terms of the contract, including the $5 million buyout, even though the school is describing Turgeon’s departure as a mutual decision to part ways.
In Friday’s announcement, Evans said Turgeon coached at Maryland “with distinction and honor,” and he wished Turgeon and his family the best moving forward.
Fans had grown antsy as Turgeon’s teams at times struggled in the postseason. An influx of talented transfers — particularly starters Qudus Wahab, a center from Georgetown, and Fatts Russell, a point guard from Rhode Island — provided a jolt of optimism entering this season, but the early-season losses prompted concern.
The Terps lost at home to George Mason, which has since lost four straight games, and then let second-half leads evaporate against Louisville in the Bahamas and this week against Virginia Tech.
Turgeon was only the eighth head coach in program history, taking over after Maryland’s all-time wins leader, Gary Williams, retired in 2011. Turgeon came from Texas A&M, where he had led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament in all four of his seasons there. He previously served as the head coach at Wichita State and Jacksonville State.
The Terps didn’t make the tournament in Turgeon’s first three seasons in College Park, but in 2014-2015 the program broke through for the first time since 2009-2010 and advanced to the second round. Maryland made four more tournament appearances but only advanced past the second round once, when it reached the Sweet 16 in 2016.
Two decades ago, when Williams brought the Terps to two straight Final Fours and the team claimed the 2002 national title, Maryland was among the nation’s powerhouse programs. The Terps gradually drifted from that standard late in Williams’s tenure and after Turgeon’s hire, which came three seasons before the school moved to the Big Ten.
Maryland’s next coach will inherit a program with a storied past and a talent-rich area for local recruiting as the Terps seek to return to those heights.
“We’ll continue to move forward and try to build Maryland basketball,” Evans said by telephone Friday evening. “I want everyone to understand I want Maryland basketball to reach the expectations that we all have, and my expectations for Maryland basketball are extremely high.”