COLLEGE PARK – University of Maryland officials said Monday they are considering bringing back some of the athletic teams eliminated last year due to a budget deficit.
Members of a university commission that includes faculty, students and alumni studying the transition from the ACC to the Big Ten have been meeting since January and will make recommendations to university President Wallace Loh by June 30.
The committee will “make recommendations on which, if any, teams that were eliminated should be restored and in what timeline and what order of priority,” Nan Ratner, one of the committee’s vice chairs, said Monday at a public forum to discuss the Big Ten transition.
Seven athletic programs were cut last year to offset an athletic department deficit that was projected to reach more than $4 million in 2012 and as much as $17 million by 2017.
The Big Ten, which has its own television network, is expected to bring in higher revenue for Maryland than the ACC.
“I think we’ve been doing the foundation work to be able discuss [bringing back the teams],” Vice President for Student Affairs Linda Clement said in an interview Tuesday. “Until we understood what the money was and what kind of funds were going to come in, we really couldn’t make any decisions. We’re at the point now where we’re ready for that discussion.”
Clement said that the main source of revenue will come from gate receipts. Other sources of revenue include the Big Ten Network and proceeds from bowl games.
The committee cannot release specific revenue numbers due to the confidentiality agreement the university signed with the Big Ten, Board of Regents vice chair Barry Gossett said.
Several factors will be considered before teams are recommended for reinstatement, including academic performance of athletes, Provost Mary Ann Rankin said.
“We might look at [the graduation rate, graduation success and GPA] and decide if we added [one of the eliminated sports] it would up the statistics for our student-athletes,” said Rankin, a member of the Big Ten transition commission.
Loh announced in November that the university would be leaving the ACC after nearly 60 years of membership and formed a 22-member commission to ensure that the transition into the Big Ten goes smoothly.
“This should be as open and transparent of a process as possible,” Loh said at Monday’s public forum.
Several former student-athletes at the forum urged the committee to reinstate their teams, including a large contingent of swimming and diving members and alumni.
“Personally, it will be hard to graduate a proud Terp knowing I was not given the college experience I was originally promised,” said junior Anderson Sloan, who transferred from Clemson University after the school cut its swimming and diving team.
Senior Allison Campbell, a former member of the women’s water polo team, said she wanted future student-athletes to have the opportunity she had.
“It will not impact me personally, but I know I would like to have the opportunity to come back in the future and for the legacy of women’s water polo to continue here,” she said.
Gossett said he understood the pain that the decision caused.
“We are all part of the Terp family. Some of us get hurt a little bit once in awhile and we understand that,” he said. “But I’ve always supported this institution; the many administrations, the many athletic directors and the many student-athletes, and I will continue to do that.”