Tue Apr 05 09:30pm EDT
The simmering feud between Maryland coach Gary Williams and his former athletic director boiled over Tuesday in very public fashion.
Debbie Yow, now in her first year as athletic director at North Carolina State, accused Williams of sabotaging the Wolfpack's coaching search by warning candidates they wouldn't want to work for Yow. NC State hired former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried on Tuesday after several higher profile candidates showed no interest in the job.
"I don't have a reputation across all men's basketball as being difficult to work with," Yow said during today's press conference introducing Gottfried. "I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on. We all know that. OK, so whatever. It's not a reputation. It's Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever."
Word of Yow's accusations quickly reached Williams on Tuesday evening, so he released the following statement to the Baltimore Sun.
"I haven't talked to anyone coach or athletic director connected to the NC State search," Williams said. "I don't have any interest in the NC State search, since I'm coaching at Maryland and working hard to run our program. Anyone who says I've had contact with a prospective coach or athletic director regarding this search isn't being truthful."
It's difficult to evaluate whether Williams is being honest here or not, but the fact that Yow would make such an accusation on day she hired Gottfried comes as a bit of a surprise. By doing so, she feeds speculation that Gottfried was a desperation hire by implying that the ESPN analyst was the best she could do given Williams' alleged sabotage attempts.
The sniping between Williams and Yow is a fitting culmination for a disjointed coaching search to replace recently fired Sidney Lowe. High-profile candidates Sean Miller, Chris Mack and Shaka Smart each reportedly denied interest in the NC State job, leading to Yow sending a letter to fans in an attempt to assuage concerns.
"There have been telephone conversations with successful coaches that did not develop into meetings — sometimes because we did not wish to pursue those coaches further and sometimes because the coach involved is happy where he is," Yow wrote. "Our absence for 5 consecutive years from the NCAA Tournament was noted by each coach as evidence that the program is in poor shape and will require a special effort to rebuild."
Within 24 hours of that letter popping up in inboxes of NC State alumni, Yow was introducing Gottfried as the Wolfpack's next coach. Gottfried coached at Alabama from 1998 to 2009, making five NCAA tournament appearances but only once advancing past the second round.
There's no doubt Gottfried feels like a rushed hire, yet that doesn't mean it cannot work. He'll have to overcome an odd start, win over the notoriously hard-to-please NC State fan base and see if he can mold some of the young talent Lowe left behind into a winning team.