Maryland Athletic Director Andy Geiger said last night Joe Krivak will return as football coach with the two expected to reach an agreement on terms of the new contract as early as Sunday. The formal signing of the new deal likely will coincide with the Terrapins' appearance in the Independence Bowl.

The school was notified last night that it will receive a bid to play in the Dec. 15 game in Shreveport, La., when the invitations are announced Saturday. Maryland is expected to meet Louisiana Tech (8-3) in the game, which has a payout of $600,000 per team.

"That's just great," said Krivak, when reached last night in West Virginia, where he is visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. "I think the kids will be really excited about that. It was a big goal of our seniors this year.

"I told them the night before the Virginia game that all we had to do was win. I said it was a crazy world and if we won maybe something would become available."

Krivak was comparatively subdued when asked about his new contract.

"We have to discuss some things," he said. "But as I said all along, everything would take care of itself."

"We've had a really good three days exchanging ideas; we each made some points," Geiger said of an evaluation process with Krivak that began on Monday and ended yesterday. "We do have some work to do in terms of things like university policies and the like -- we have some goals we want to work towards.

"We have some understanding about approaches. We just exchange ideas really well. We feel really good about each other. I'm looking forward to working with him."

After they receive the official Independence Bowl invitation Saturday night, Geiger and Krivak will travel to Shreveport the next day to begin preparations for the game. During that time, they are expected to come settle such terms as the length of the new contract. Krivak, 55, made a $91,000 base salary this year; his current four-year contract expires Dec. 10.

Krivak compiled an 18-25-1 record during his first four seasons as Maryland's head coach, including a 6-5 mark for the 1990 regular season.

This is Maryland's first winning season in five years and came against a schedule that included seven 1989 bowl teams and six teams that were ranked in the top 25 this season.

The Terrapins appeared to draw the attention of some minor bowls after winning five of their first eight games. But they dropped their next two games, to North Carolina and Penn State. Although the team rallied to beat then-No. 8 Virginia, 35-30, last Saturday to clinch a winning record, the stirring win appeared to come too late to recapture the eyes of most bowl organizers who had already locked in teams.

However Baylor, which was the favorite for an Independence Bowl bid, declined an invitation in anticipation of a possible appearance in the Cotton Bowl, which extends an automatic bid to the Southwest Conference champion. With Baylor and Texas still in the running for that title, the SWC championship may not be decided until Dec. 1 and Independence Bowl officials couldn't wait that long.

The concerns that went into Baylor's decision were of little interest to Geiger.

"I don't know and I don't care," said Geiger, who has only been in his job since Oct. 1 after coming here from Stanford. "This is a sign of good progress for our program.

"We let them know if they invited us that we'd come."

The Independence Bowl seemed to be the only game that may have had an open spot but Maryland's chances of playing in the contest were further hindered by the fact that game is played during the school's final exams.

Geiger originally told the bowl, which had expressed some interest in the Terrapins, that Maryland couldn't be considered because of those exams.

"But the executive committee of the Athletic Council made a recommendation to the {university} president {William E. Kirwan} that we be allowed to go and make other arrangements for exams," Geiger said. "I also got a strong message from the 18 seniors on the team that they would make sure everyone took care of business in that sense.

"I think this is an important statement to the school's commitment to the program and is a reward for those seniors, who have been through a lot here. I'm really pleased that we get to play another football game."

Maryland will have to purchase approximately 15,000 tickets for the Independence Bowl and the first $100,000 it receives will go to the ACC. Geiger said the school is budgeting $150,000 for expenses, leaving a net profit of $350,000 plus whatever money is received from ticket sales to the public.

"We'll be campaigning -- we have some work to do," Geiger said. "We're trying to run a bowl in 18 days."