Her teammates have done the same, refusing to let the specter of their teams’ elimination interfere with their athletic goals. Meanwhile, out of the pool, a booster group spearheaded by parents has been equally vigorous in trying to raise the $11.6 million that university officials say is needed to spare the teams.
With Terrapins athletics hemorrhaging money, Maryland President Wallace D. Loh decided to cut eight of 27 varsity teams to address a deficit that’s projected to balloon from $4 million this year to more than $17 million by 2017 unless spending is dramatically curtailed. Cutting the teams will pare $5 million from the athletic department’s $57.7 million annual budget, according to university projections.
Soon after, Anderson unveiled fundraising targets that each team had to meet by June 30 to win a reprieve. In the case of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, that figure was $11.6 million — 59 percent more than the $7.3 million that Maryland’s chief athletic fundraising group, the Terrapin Club, had raised for the entire athletics department the preceding year.
While the parent-driven booster group Save Maryland Swimming and Diving has made impressive strides in the last two months — raising $1 million in pledges, identifying prospective donors capable of giving $3 million more, crafting a business plan that pares spending and generates $250,000 in new revenue — it’s nowhere near reaching the $11.5 million goal.
‘It can’t be done!’
And with less than five months to go, some are questioning whether the university’s formula for saving the teams (with each team required to raise eight years of annual operating costs, including scholarships) was developed in good faith or is merely a public-relations ruse.
“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.”
Anderson said eight years of operating costs is reasonable because it reflects two full recruiting cycles, giving coaches and prospective athletes confidence in the teams’ financial stability. According to Anderson, the plan to cut sports initially offered no route for teams to save themselves. He said he lobbied hard to develop the fundraising option — based on a successful campaign waged to save certain athletics programs at the University of California — as an alternative.
In a Feb. 1 letter to Loh, Kramer characterized the university’s fundraising goal as “disingenuous” and argued that a more reasonable standard would be asking teams to raise one year of operating costs by June 30.