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U-Md. athletic director Jim Kehoe

Matt Schudel

Over the weekend, I wrote an obituary of Jim Kehoe, one of the most important figures in University of Maryland sports history.

Kehoe was the athletic director who brought the university into the sporting big time in the 1970s by hiring Lefty Driesell as men's basketball coach and Jerry Claiborne as football coach. Previously, Maryland had been the doormat of the Atlantic Coast Conference -- the football team was 2-17 in the two seasons before Kehoe became AD.

The Terps were doormats in almost every sport, that is, except track and field and cross country, for these were the sports that Kehoe coached.

For 23 years, from 1946 to 1969, when he resigned as track coach to become the AD, Kehoe had one of the most remarkable coaching records in America. His cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams won an astounding 48 conference championships in the ACC and its predecessor, the Southern Conference.

In college at Maryland from 1936 to 1940, Kehoe had been a standout middle-distance runner and never lost a race in a dual meet. He held the school records in the two-mile and 880-yard runs. (His 880 record of 1:50.7, which he set in 1940, stood for 23 years.) A 1959 article in The Washington Post called Kehoe "the foremost runner in Maryland history." Several of his brothers also excelled in track and tennis at U-Md.

His coaching was even more remarkable. The same Post article pointed out, "It's about time the Washington area appreciated Jim Kehoe and the Maryland track teams he has been turning out for 12 years."

The football and basketball teams, led by Jim Tatum and Bud Millikan, "as good as they have been, do not approach the amazing record compiled by Kehoe's track and field squads."

Kehoe did all this without the benefit of athletic scholarships and with only one poorly paid assistant coach. He may be better known today for the coaching legends he brought to College Park, but Jim Kehoe deserves to be remembered as a coaching giant in his own right.

By Matt Schudel  |  February 2, 2010; 12:57 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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