The University of Maryland athletic department finished its 1999 fiscal year June 30 with an operating surplus of about $500,000, Athletic Director Debbie Yow said yesterday. The surplus will be put toward scholarships during fiscal 2000, Yow said.

Maryland's athletic department must be financially self-supporting in terms of annual operating revenues and expenses. This is the fifth consecutive year in which it has at least balanced its budget. Prior to that, the department had gone 10 years without a balanced budget, accumulating a $6.8 million debt. The debt was retired in fiscal 1998.

"This was an extraordinary year," Yow said. "We benefited from a convergence of highly positive circumstances -- some under our control, some not."

The greatest positive was that the Terrapin Club, the department's booster group, raised a record $3.3 million -- more than $575,000 over its annual goal. Yow said playing a home football game against Georgia Tech at Baltimore's PSINet Stadium last fall enabled the department to clear $450,000 more than it would have if the game had been played at Byrd Stadium.

The department received $560,000 from a renegotiated credit card agreement -- a deal that won't be renegotiated again for seven years. In addition, the department's share of revenue from the Atlantic Coast Conference's participation in the Bowl Championship Series was $500,000 more than anticipated, Yow said.

Those combined revenues more than offset expenses that also exceeded projections, Yow said.