Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams said he remembers, as a kid growing up in Collingswood, N.J., how much his scholarship to the University of Maryland meant. Roughly 40 years later, he is helping spearhead a drive that will help future Terrapins in the same way. Not only will Williams co-direct the school's effort to raise millions of dollars in scholarship money, he will contribute $500,000 of his own funds toward the drive.

"I got a scholarship to go to school, and I seriously doubt I would've been able to go -- or it would have been really hard -- if I hadn't," Williams said yesterday. "I always appreciated that."

Maryland President Dan Mote made the announcement of Williams's participation at a dinner that raised $1.5 million toward the effort on Saturday night. The fundraising campaign will be formally launched in 2006. The monetary goal for the campaign hasn't been settled upon, but university officials expect at least a $200 million goal for academic as well as athletic scholarships.

Mote said that because funding for higher education is increasingly falling to students and universities themselves, scholarships are likely to be even more important in years to come. Williams's participation, Mote hopes, will help bring notoriety to the cause.

Williams, 59, is entering his 17th year as the coach at his alma mater. He is guaranteed to earn more than $1.3 million in salary from the school and outside sources such as athletic apparel maker Nike, as well as from his radio and television shows. His $500,000 contribution to the scholarship drive will be made over an as-yet-to-be determined number of years.

"I'm committed to it," Williams said. "That's what I think I can do, if I remain in coaching. I'm glad to do it, and I plan on honoring it."

-- Barry Svrluga