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Tampa legend moves on

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000


TAMPA -- When Terry Rupp announced Wednesday he would become the University of Maryland's baseball coach, Tampa lost one of its sports legends.

From his days playing baseball at Jesuit and leading the Tigers' basketball team to a state championship to one of the most storied two-sport careers at the University of Tampa to coaching the Spartans to three World Series, Rupp is one of those athletes whose name is synonymous with the city he has called home for almost 25 years.

"It's going to be a challenge," said Rupp, who inherits a Terrapin team that went 24-33 last year. "But I'm excited. I'm happy to move on and take on another challenge."

Rupp, 34, has been the head coach at UT for the past five seasons. During that time, he compiled a 215-80 record, including four seasons with 40 or more wins.

He led UT to the Division II College World Series three times, winning the title in 1998, the same season he was named national coach of the year. This season, Tampa was ranked No. 2 in the nation heading into post-season play.

Eight of Rupp's players have been drafted in the past five years. "Terry Rupp is a proven winner at the collegiate level," Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said in a release. "His record at Tampa speaks to his success in player and program development on and off the field."

This won't be Rupp's first chance to coach against Division I opposition. While at UT, the Spartans went 15-5 against Division I teams, including wins over Miami, Army and Southwestern Louisiana.

As it was when he took over at UT, Rupp is expecting the first year at Maryland to be the hardest, Although it will be for much different reason. At Tampa, it was getting used to paperwork and scheduling. His task at Maryland will be to rebuild a losing program into an ACC contender.

"That was the hardest year," Rupp said. "I had to learn a lot of the administrative aspects of the job. I think the biggest thing now is to, first of all, bring a different image to Maryland baseball. And you do that by presentation and work ethic. It's the little things that make the difference. We're going to show people in the ACC that we're going to be someone to deal with."

Rupp graduated from the University of Tampa, where he was twice named to the All-South Regional team in baseball and was a two-time all-conference selection in basketball. He attended Jesuit High and was a Parade and McDonald's all-American in basketball and led the Tigers to the Class 3A state championship in 1984.

In 1989, Rupp was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 16th round, and he played two seasons in the team's minor league system. From 1993-95, he was a minor league coach for the Oneonta Yankees of the New York-Penn League.

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