Maryland's historic track program is getting run out

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Scott Silverstein
Jim Kehoe wandered around the track complex that carried his name, almost giddy.

Clad in a colorful shirt and a straw hat to keep off the sun, he had the strut of a celebrity, which that day he was. After all, the ACC track and field championships had returned to Maryland in 1996 after an absence of many years, and the new facility holding the event was named after the former Terrapins track coach and athletic director.

Kehoe died last year at age 91. The program he built into a national powerhouse suffered a possible mortal blow Monday.

A Maryland commission recommended cutting eight teams to reduce the athletic department's multimillion dollar debt. Among those teams are three from the same program: men's cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field.

The Terps once were among the greatest track programs in the country. Maryland won every ACC title indoors and outdoors from 1956 to 1979 and produced one of the greatest collegiate runners ever. While at Maryland, hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah won three national titles and broke the world record.

The program has struggled in the past 20-plus years because of a lack of scholarships (mostly a result of Title IX), but dismissing it means eradicating a legacy. It's also somewhat of an embarrassment; current coach Andrew Valmon will lose half his athletes the same year he coaches the U.S. team that will compete at the 2012 Olympics in London.

So much for the University of Maryland's "27 sports, one team" motto.

By next fall, "19 sports, minus eight teams" might be a better fit.

- Scott Silverstein

ssilverstein@washingtonexaminer.com

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