Football Coach Bobby Ross again is negotiating a long-term contract with the University of Maryland after what he described as encouraging meetings with university officials concerning academic standards and enlarging Byrd Stadium.
In addition, Athletic Director Dick Dull in the past week signed a four-year guaranteed contract with a base salary of $75,000 for the first year. As has been standard practice at Maryland for a decade, he also has incentive clauses that would earn him another $12,000 if the Terrapins play in a bowl game and the NCAA basketball tournament.
These developments occurred during the same week Lefty Driesell discussed the possibility of becoming basketball coach of Old Dominion University. Driesell yesterday officially ended talks with ODU, affirming his desire to remain at Maryland.
Ross, who had agreed to a 10-year contract in December, signed a one-year deal worth $138,000 this summer because he was uncertain of the university's commitment to his program. "Since our meetings, I've felt much, much better and felt encouraged," he said yesterday. "They were very productive meetings. With some definite directions established at that time, we're in the follow-up process."
As a result of those meetings, according to Ross, Maryland will have the same admission standards for its players as opposing schools have, once Proposition 48 goes into effect. And, according to Dull, Chancellor John B. Slaughter will take "a strong leadership role" in private fund-raising efforts to finance improvements to the stadium, while university officials also seek approval in Annapolis for a bond issue to finance part of the $10 million cost.
Ross' optimism is shared by Dull, who said, "We've still got some work to do, but I still believe we can get Bobby into a long-term arrangement."
The new long-term contract would include the same basics upon which Dull and Ross verbally agreed last December. That included a length of 10 years, an annuity package put together with outside contributions, base salary and a radio-television package. Ross' current contract calls for a base salary of $78,000 and $60,000 for radio and television.
"We're not close right now," Dull said. "We're 'close' provided in the next two months we can see progress in these two areas (of Ross' concern)."
Told of Dull's assessment, Ross said, "That's very accurate."
Ross, whose team is ranked No. 1 in Sport magazine's preseason poll, said he and Dull will meet the week of Oct. 6 to discuss progress in the two problem areas and the long-term contract. The Terrapins do not play that week.
Dull, who is starting his fifth year at Maryland, has been a finalist for the athletic directorship at Ohio State, Southern California and Arizona State in the last two years. He turned down the Ohio State job and was not offered the other two, either of which he likely would have taken at the time. Now, Dull says, he is not interested in looking elsewhere.
"I'm not certain any of those three positions would be better than what I have or in my best interests, either," he said yesterday. "As a result of all of those meetings, I'm encouraged that the problems Bobby was concerned about will be remedied.
"I was also concerned with full (administrative) support from top to bottom in the area of facilities. It's been one of my biggest frustrations because I simply didn't know how to pull it off."
The first meeting was with Britt Kirwan, vice chancellor for academic affairs. Maryland's admission standards have increased each of Ross' four seasons in College Park. At some schools, the only requirement for a football player's admission is that he meet the NCAA standard of a 2.0 high school grade-point average. Maryland uses a scale based on college board scores and grade-point average in academic courses.
Ross said Maryland officials have agreed to adhere to whatever final form Proposition 48 takes. That rule, passed in 1983 and due to become effective for next season's recruits, requires a 2.0 grade-point average in a core curriculum of 11 academic courses and a minimum test score. It is possible the rule will be modified at the NCAA convention in January.
"We will adhere to 48 right to the letter," Ross said. "We have not adhered in the past to the NCAA 2.0 rule. It will be what everyone else has and, as long as that's the case, I don't care. It can be whatever it has to be."
Admission requirements weren't the only sticking point for football recruits at Maryland, where the admissions office has not made decisions prior to the national letter of intent signing date. Thus, Maryland would sign a player, only to find out later he would not be admitted to school. As a result of the recent meeting, coaches will make an effort to get credentials to the admissions office quickly and that office will try to make a decision prior to the national signing date. Guidelines are being drawn up at this time.
"There's no doubt in my mind that some of the confusion over admissions issues will be defined and resolved," Dull said.
At the second meeting that included University President John Toll, Slaughter and the chairman and vice chairman of the Board of Regents, Slaughter agreed to take what Dull called "a strong leadership role" in raising private funds to pay the mortgage for facilities. Dull said Slaughter may use outside fund-raisers in this effort.
The top university officials also agreed to ask the General Assembly to allow athletic facilities to be included in bond issues that currently are limited to parking garages and dormitories. The first of three phases of the Byrd Stadium expansion will add luxury boxes, a 5,000-seat upper deck and a new press box at a total estimated cost of $10 million.
The debt service will be $1 million annually for 20 years, Dull said. The Board of Regents this summer passed a $12 increase in the student athletic fee. All that extra money will be used for facilities, and the athletic department agreed to set aside another $300,000 annually for this purpose.
Slaughter was unavailable for comment.