- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Mark Turgeon ultimately weighed a golden opportunity to be at a tradition-rich basketball school in the ACC against continuing where he was comfortable at an emerging program deep in Texas.
He spent 24 hours on the decision, wrestled with it, and ultimately chose to make his most significant career move by deciding to leave Texas A&M on Monday and accept Maryland's offer to replace recently-retired and likely Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams.
"It wasn't easy," Turgeon told ESPN.com a few minutes after holding a tear-filled meeting with his Aggies players in College Station. "But I just felt like it was a great opportunity. Maryland has a tremendous amount of tradition, is in a great area for players, and it's in a great league with a lot of tradition. I know you can be successful there if you work hard and get lucky."
A news conference to introduce Turgeon is set for Wednesday at noon in College Park.
"We're thrilled to bring Mark to the University, where I'm sure he will continue to build on the great legacy and success of Maryland Basketball," Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said. "In Mark, we have brought one of the outstanding young coaches in the country, and one who has a proven record of achievement on and off the court. We couldn't be more excited."
Turgeon said he had a number of conversations with the 66-year-old Williams about the job.
Earlier Monday, Williams told ESPN.com he wasn't sure what would occur, but felt comfortable that a successor would be found soon and would succeed.
Williams was at Maryland on Monday taking care of some business before going on vacation, having recently gotten married for the second time.
"It's an honor to follow Gary," Turgeon said of Williams, who won the 2002 national championship at his alma mater. "I wear my emotions on my sleeve, not as much as Gary, but I do. He's been great through this whole process. He'll be really helpful to me. Gary loves Maryland and wants Maryland to win and be successful."
Turgeon said the short-term answer was to stay at Texas A&M. The Aggies are expected to be in the mix for the Big 12 title next season.
"It was a great weekend for Texas A&M with David Loubeau returning from the draft and all three Texas players leaving," Turgeon said of the Longhorns' underclassmen trio of Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Jordan Hamilton.
"We have a chance to be the best we've been in our four years here," Turgeon said. "That was a big part of what made me think. I know Baylor is loaded. Kansas has players. Missouri will be good. But Texas A&M will be as good as anybody in the league. I told the team that and that weighed in my decision. There are a lot of great things here but I just felt this was a great opportunity for me and my family."
"I'm really sorry to see Mark go," Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. "He did a tremendous job for us. He has continued to build our program. The good thing about this compared to when we hired Billy [Gillispie] and when we hired Mark is that we have built ourselves a basketball fan base and we've built ourselves some incredible facilities. So going out and attracting a great coach to Texas A&M is going to be a lot easier than when we hired Mark and when we hired Billy. I'm confident we're going to have someone come in who will represent the values of Texas A&M, make sure the kids have a good experience and graduate, and that's what I told them a few minutes ago. We'll make sure they have a great experience here because I'm excited about the future of this basketball team coming up. This could have been Mark's best team. We need to make sure we continue on that path."
Turgeon played for Larry Brown at Kansas from 1984-87. He was an assistant at Kansas as soon as he finished playing and then went to Oregon before following Brown to the Philadelphia 76ers.
His first head coaching job was at Jacksonville State before going to Wichita State for seven seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2006. He went to A&M to follow Gillispie in 2007, where he has been since and led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament in each of the four seasons, reaching the second round in three of the first four seasons in College Station.
The Terps had previously attempted to woo Arizona coach Sean Miller with Anderson flying to meet with the Wildcats coach on Saturday in Las Vegas. Miller, however, chose to stay in Arizona and received a contract extension.
"It was an opportunity that I really felt in the best interests of our own family and myself to at least pause and consider," Miller said Monday of his flirtation with Maryland. "By doing that, it also really strengthens your belief on the place that you're at."
Notre Dame's Mike Brey and Butler's Brad Stevens were also on the Terps' list but both coaches elected to stay put.
"There really wasn't much to it, other than some speculation from down there [Maryland] and I understand that with a coaching search," Brey told reporters Monday.
Initial inquiries by Maryland to Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Villanova's Jay Wright were also rebuffed.
Maryland is facing a rebuilding situation after sophomore big man Jordan Williams entered the NBA draft last week.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M reportedly has decided that Buzz Williams would be too costly to pry away from Marquette and Memphis coach Josh Pastner told Hoops Report that he also is not interested in the opening.
Buzz Williams was a former Aggies assistant under Gillispie but received a new contract after coaching Marquette into the Sweet 16 last March.
However, Colorado coach Tad Boyle could be a candidate for A&M's vacancy since he worked with Turgeon as an assistant at Oregon when Byrne was with the Ducks.
Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik would also be a viable candidate. Wojcik has been a candidate for a number of jobs recently. Gillispie might have been a viable candidate but he took the Texas Tech job in March.
"We always keep a list," Byrne said in the statement. "We always know some people that we think will work well with us here, so we'll start that process again. [Mark] has done an incredible job for us. I really think we've built ourselves at Texas A&M to the point where we can go out and attract great coaches. If you look at who we've attracted in our other sports we've got some really outstanding coaches here."
Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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