Maryland athletic department officials said yesterday that they are projecting a budget deficit of between $600,000 and $800,000 for this fiscal year, mainly because of lagging ticket sales for football games.

"The reason we're projecting that deficit right now is because the single biggest area where we're behind is in football gate receipt revenues," said associate athletic director Kevin Weiberg, who added that men's basketball also might have difficulty meeting its revenue projections because the Terrapins play only 12 home games this year. Weiberg also said that the budgeting practice of projecting every home football game will be a sellout is not realistic.

In the last fiscal year, Maryland had a deficit of $1.25 million and, as a result, 17 people were fired. At that time, officials said it might be three years before the department is in the black.

"If some things happen," Athletic Director Lew Perkins said of the three-year estimate for a balanced budget, "I think we have a fairly good handle on the expenditures. The big concern is on the revenue side."

Neither Perkins nor Weiberg -- both of whom arrived after this year's budget was produced -- would rule out further staff cuts. Some areas, they said, might be overstaffed, while some, such as promotions, need "beefing up."

One probable effect of the budget problems, reported yesterday in the Baltimore Sun, is that Byrd Stadium will not get major refurbishing until sometime in the 1990s.

"That's one I can't answer," Perkins said. "There are some other ways we're looking at funding facilities that wouldn't affect our daily operations. It's an area I'm trying to look at very carefully. But there is no way we can use operating funds to do facilities. It will have to come from other resources."