Video by Sean McCalley/CNS-TV
COLLEGE PARK – University of Maryland students, donors and staff offered up suggestions on Monday on how to reduce the Maryland Athletic Department’s growing deficit. The Athletic Department says they have no more reserves to cover this year’s projected $1 million shortfall which the Department estimates will grow to $67.2 million by the year 2020.
Several dozen people turned out for a public forum, organized by University President Wallace Loh. In July, Loh appointed the President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a 17 member task force to look into the finances of the department and make recommendations for increasing revenues and decreasing costs.
“We need to create such an atmosphere that people are gonna want to come to. I want all demographics involved. I want the families involved, and I want the young alumni involved,” Ary Manzhukh, a senior at the University of Maryland, told the panel.
And that’s part of the problem. University officials say fewer tickets to football games are being sold. The Athletic Department also says many of the luxury football boxes at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium remain empty. According to the University, only three of the 27 varsity sports are revenue producers. One is football, the other two are men’s and women’s basketball. The Athletic Department says it’s also lost an estimated 1,500 donors over the past few years.
University of Maryland senior Ary Manzhukh cited other problems. “When people are getting citations, when people are getting parking tickets, when it’s not a friendly environment. I’m really urging you to talk to the people who are in charge of this environment, because I promise you, if you make this environment fun, people will come.”
A few at the forum voiced concern that in order to balance the budget, some teams would have to be eliminated. However, the co-chairman of the commission, University of Maryland alum and donor Barry Gossett, avoided any specifics about what they might recommend.
Gossett told the audience, “We recognize that there will be short term changes. But we don’t want to do anything that will prohibit the long term success of the Athletic Department.”
The panel’s recommendations are expected to be presented to President Loh by mid-November.