The tension between Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams and the school's athletic department is evident, and judging from Williams' comments made Tuesday night, might be escalating.
The catalyst is Williams' recruiting, which he discussed in a news conference Monday morning. He was talking about next season's incoming class, then was asked about two high-profile recruits he lost in 2008,
Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans.
Gilchrist, a 6-foot-10 forward, transferred to South Florida during the summer. Evans, a 6-3 guard, ended up at Kent State.
Williams told reporters: "It wasn't my fault that they're not here. That was somebody else's call."
That prompted Maryland senior associate athletic director Kathleen Worthington to tell The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday: "I want to clarify the facts and the timing and the decision process of these situations. It was my recommendation that we not sign a release for Gus. I didn't want to release him. It was the head coach's decision. No one else released Gus."
Washington- and Baltimore-area reporters brought up the subject again Tuesday night with Williams after the Terrapins' 76-67 loss to Boston College.
Williams' latest volley: "Kathy Worthington doesn't speak for me, she has never won a national championship, she has never done anything. She's an associate AD. This is just giving you guys stuff to make me look bad."
The players in question, Gilchrist and Evans, have complicated histories in relation to the Terrapins.
Gilchrist originally had signed with Virginia Tech, but after the April 2007 campus shootings that left a total of 33 dead, he asked for and was granted his release from his national letter of intent. Gilchrist went to Maryland, but was faced with an ACC rule that states a player transferring within the conference not only has to sit out a year, but also lose a year of eligibility.
Gilchrist sat out his first year at Maryland as he went through (and lost) the appeals process.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Williams signed a document, dated June 3, that released Gilchrist from the school.
"He was going to leave. Me signing the release had nothing to do with it," Williams said after Tuesday's game. "He had made up his mind. Why not sign a release and let the kid go where he wants? Why am I bad for signing a release?"
The controversy over Evans stems from his checkered history, and whether Maryland school officials were made aware of it before Williams began recruiting him.
According to The Sun, Evans, a junior-college transfer, was offered a scholarship by Maryland in spring 2008. However, the Terrapins announced shortly thereafter that Evans asked to be released, a request that was granted.
"After much thought, Tyree felt Maryland was not the best fit for him at this time, and I support his decision," Williams said at the time.
Worthington, the associate AD, said Williams stopped the recruiting process after learning Evans had been convicted of misdemeanor drug charges as well as misdemeanor assault and battery.
"Gary made the final decision to withdraw an offer of aid to Tyree and personally called the Office of Student Affairs to inform them he was no longer recruiting Tyree Evans because Tyree had not disclosed all of the criminal issues he'd had in his past," Worthington said, according to The Sun. "Gary became upset that Tyree hadn't disclosed everything."
Williams said Tuesday night that as Evans' history came to light, the media coverage and publicity made it clear it would have been difficult for the player.
"You shouldn't make that kid come into that situation here," Williams said. "He would have had to go through so much just being a student on campus after everything that was said in the papers."
Added Williams: "I've run a clean program for 20 years. Check my record. I coach here, I've got to live here. I've coached here for 20 years, long before anyone else was here. Nobody was here 20 years ago."
Information from ESPN.com reporters Andy Katz and Dana O'Neil and The Associated Press was used in this report.