With less than five months to go, some are questioning whether the University of Maryland’s formula for saving its men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams was developed in good faith, or merely as a public relations stunt. They are supposed to raise $11.6 million by June 30, and have raised $1 million so far.
Terrapins athletics is hemorrhaging money, and Maryland President therefore decided to cut 8 of 27 varsity teams to address a deficit that is expected to balloon from $4 million this year to more than $17 million by 2017. A cut that the university projected will pare $5 million from the athletic department’s $57.7 million annual budget.
People objected of course, and the University then threw them a lifeline, saying that for instance the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams could stay, if they managed to raise $11.6 million by June 30. Equal to 8 years of the swim teams’ annual operating costs, or 59 percent more than the $7.3 million that Maryland’s chief athletic fundraising group had raised for the entire athletics department the preceding year.
Till now they’ve raised $1 million in pledges, identified prospective donors capable of giving $3 million more, and crafted a business plan that generates $250,000 in new revenue. But there is still a long way to the goal of $11.5 million.
“To raise eight years of operating costs in four months is ludicrous! It can’t be done!” Maryland Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery) said in a recent telephone interview. As a university, “you’re going to pat yourself on the back and say that you gave everybody an opportunity. But it’s absolutely insincere.”