Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

July 24, 2012

Kirk retires as Allegany College athletic director

Led ACM athletics for 41 years; Bazarnic to serve as interim AD

CUMBERLAND — You won’t find him permanently entrenched on the Outer Banks, but neither will you find him entrenched in his office running the athletic department at Allegany College of Maryland, as Bob Kirk announced his retirement as the school’s director of health, physical education and athletics, a position he held since 1971 when he arrived at Allegany from Mount Savage High School and proceeded to turn Trojan athletics into a national player on the NJCAA level.

Kirk, an NJCAA Hall of Famer whose name is on the college’s athletic arena and physical education center, retired as the Allegany men’s basketball coach in 2004, but continued to hold the position of director of health, physical education and athletics. In an e-mail, Allegany College President Cynthia S. Bambara announced that NJCAA Hall of Fame baseball coach Steve Bazarnic will assume those duties on an interim basis beginning in August, 2012.

“I’ve really been doing this for a long time,” Kirk said Tuesday afternoon, “and I’ve talked about (retirement), but really I just felt with the situation I’m in, I told Steve Bazarnic I’d like for him to follow me if he would like to. We talked and felt this was the time, and it was time for me.

“Steve will do great with it. He has the personality they need here. He’s the person they need here.”

Bazarnic was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

When he arrived on Willowbrook Road in 1971, Kirk said his aim was to make Allegany “a major college program on the junior college level,” and he and Bazarnic, who is the winningest active NJCAA baseball coach in the nation and who also arrived at Allegany in 1971, have succeeded. In 33 years as the men’s basketball coach, Kirk’s teams compiled a 927-158 record, earning 12 NJCAA national tournament berths, including two appearances in the championship game. Allegany won six district titles, 17 Region XX titles, 24 Maryland JUCO Conference regular season championships and 17 conference tournament titles.

Upon his retirement as basketball coach, Kirk’s longtime coaching rival at Hagerstown Community College, Jim Brown, told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, “His program would have to be compared to what Duke is on the Division I level in East Coast basketball. He was a tough cookie to beat on the floor.”

Players who were sent to Cumberland by Division I coaches to attend Allegany included NBA players Steve Francis, Eric Mobley and John Turner. Kirk also held close ties to the University of Maryland and former coaches Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams, as former Terps Tom “Speedy” Jones,  Rudy Archer, Ryan Randle, Jamar Smith and Sterling Ledbetter played for Allegany under Kirk.

“It was a different situation because we needed to get the program going first,” said Kirk, whose players maintained a 90-percent graduation rate. “We got it started and continued to bring people in who were willing to play and to get an education. We never played anybody who wasn’t targeted to graduate.

“We had to get established, get it going and have people buy into it. Players came here and we were able to place them (into four-year colleges) because they were willing to come here to begin with. There are so many great people who have built this program — local people and the coaches who sent players here because they knew they would graduate.”

Kirk, who recruited community involvement harder than he did any player, said the local embrace Allegany athletics receives on top of the full cooperation of the school’s administration, has been the most rewarding aspect of his time at Allegany.

“There really have been so many things,” he said. “Probably the greatest thing was I worked for the president. I made my own schedule and was able to have enough people interested in the program who, in turn, helped build the program. And we did it together.

“It’s been a combination of so many things. The president has been very, very supportive as have the board of trustees and the community that took a chance on me. But we were able to put things together and we did it for years and years.”

Now it’s a matter of his deciding what he’ll do in the coming years.

“I’m not going to the Outer Banks like people think I am,” he said. “I want to be near my son Jeff. I’ll travel some. I’ll be going to the Outer Banks, but I’ll never leave. I love it here and I want to be as close to my son as I can.”

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

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