The University of Maryland cut just over three percent of its athletic budget recently, which will result in a few more bus trips and a few less media guides for the athletic programs.
I can’t imagine that the football and men’s basketball staff will actually complain about taking buses to ACC games in Virginia and North Carolina, because that’s long been the life of the mid-major programs that bus in to take a beating courtesy of the Terps for a sizable paycheck.
On the other hand, the Terp boosters have to feel bad about this kind of adjustment over such small change; $300,000 for football and just over $147,000 for men’s basketball is about 25 phone calls to local dentists, lawyers, and business owners with Terrapin ties.
Schools everywhere are taking measures to save money, but I’ve yet to hear Duke, North Carolina, or any other institution in the Terps’ line of fire for conference relevance taking such cuts.
It’s not a bad thing to take buses and reduce costs, if for no other reason than to show your fanbase that you are aware of today’s financial culture. But even in tough times, well-off folk, who are the real fans that drive the business enterprise that is collegiate sports, are still investing in athletic success.
They live for bragging rights among their friends and family. They enjoy the status symbol of good seats at a high-energy home game. And they probably wouldn’t mind keeping the money train rolling if they knew it could enhance these symbols of affluence and stature in their inner-circles of sports rabid fans.
So let’s be honest; winning, or lack thereof, is the motivation behind this story. Terrapins Nation has cooled to a point where their dwindling hopes for national relevance have cooled off their check writing vigor. We’re talking less than half-a-million dollars to keep the program existing at its established comfort level.
And let’s not pretend that the Debbie Yow, who is a tremendous athletic director, hasn’t made the pitch to the big and little people. It’s just that the big people haven’t pulled out the big checkbooks. And when you look around at what football and men’s basketball have produced lately, in spite of great facilities and decent national coverage, who could blame them?
You mean to tell me Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, who supports Maryland basketball only out of respect and admiration for Gary Williams, would have trouble spotting UMD $200,000 so the team could fly to regional games? Please.
Maryland isn’t in trouble, but these are true and certain signs of decline in local Terp fever.