The University of Maryland will play its first night home football game Sept. 17 against West Virginia University at Byrd Stadium, it was learned yesterday.
"It's going to be a happening," said Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull, who has agreed to the 8 p.m. game so that the Turner Broadcasting System can televise the game nationally on cable (WTBS-TV).
Temporary lighting will be obtained for Byrd Stadium, which has no permanent lights. The game will be worth $475,000, to be divided by the two schools, compared to an ABC regional game worth $600,000.
"I've given my word to Turner, even if the networks came to us now," said Dull. "Everyone is excited about the opportunity to play at night."
However, Turner cannot announce its 19-game college football package until the NCAA's television committee approves the schedule.
Also, a decision by the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City over the right of individual schools to negotiate contracts for television could change Turner's schedule, as well as those planned by CBS and ABC.
In May, a federal appeals court in Denver upheld the right of schools to negotiate their own contracts, but remanded the case to the district court for further consideration. Originally, District Judge Juan C. Burciaga had ruled in a suit filed by the University of Oklahoma and Georgia that the NCAA television contracts with major television networks violate federal antitrust laws.
"It a tenuous situation," said Terry Hanson, director of sports for Turner Broadcasting. "But our lawyers have told us to go ahead with our broadcast plans. They feel contracts for the 1983 season will be valid because of the time frame."
"It should give us the opportunity to evaluate the effect playing a night game at Maryland would have," Ross said. "Every high school kid in the state should have the opportunity to see us play (many scholastic games are played Saturday afternoons), and a Saturday night game should also appeal to another set of fans who have never seen us play because they work Saturday afternoons."