From the new bold uniforms the football team will be wearing Saturday at Penn State to the advertisements featuring actress Susan Anton, the University of Maryland's athletic department is undergoing a major overhaul.
"We are trying to repair the athletic reputation of the university," Dick Dull, the athletic director, said last week. "This is a full rejuvenation we're trying to put together here.
"We want to evaluate the entire effort and program by the time of the ACC basketball tournament (in March) to see if the investment is paying off. If the program isn't where we want it, we'll take corrective steps and look at our direction."
Dull envisions the basketball team winning an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and the football team playing in a major bowl game within four years. Major changes have already been made in the football program, but Dull said he expects it will take two or three years before the new coach, Bobby Ross, is able to realize the potential of the team.
Dull expects a more immediate recovery for the basketball team, which this year will contribute approximately $900,000 in television revenue to the athletic department.
"Basketball is like the economy in that it goes in cycles," Dull said, alluding to the Terrapins' 16-13 record last season after several 20-victory years. "We have several good recruits coming in this year and I'm not overly concerned about basketball."
"I'm interested in an athletic department on the scale of Oklahoma or Texas," said Dull, "while maintaining the academic prestige on a level close to Harvard or Yale. Obviously, it is an extreme goal."
An aggressive, high-visibility marketing strategy will be a primary method to attract national attention for Maryland athletics. If it is successful, Dull believes it will improve recruiting and the level of competition.
In the previous decade, Maryland had one of the most successful football teams in this part of the country. But the conservative brand of play under former Coach Jerry Claiborne was hard to market, and the Terrapins often played in a half-empty Byrd Stadium.
Dull is betting that Ross and his announced style of wide-open football will bring excitement to the campus. He also hopes Anton, who has appeared in television commercials selling Muriel cigars and Sanyo stereos, will help sell tickets and help rid Maryland of its overly conservative image.
"This athletic department should reflect the 1980s," Dull said. "Aggressive marketing is important in accomplishing that."
Dull spent $75,000 to put the Anton ad on television, radio and in local newspapers.