Maryland Stadium (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Barry and Mary Gossett have made a $21.25 million donation to the University of Maryland for the development of the Barry and Mary Gossett Center for Academic and Personal Excellence, which will be devoted to academic and postgraduate success of the school’s athletes, the university announced Thursday morning.

Barry Gossett, who made a $10 million donation to help build the football “team house” adjoining to Maryland Stadium that opened in 2007, is a member of Maryland’s Board of Regents and also one of the school’s most influential donors. The donation announced Thursday is one of the largest in the school’s history.

The Gossett Center will not have its own new building or space built, according to a university spokesperson, but be housed in a renamed office in Xfinity Center with plans to move it to the Gossett House in the near future. 

The center will be developed around a three-pronged program focusing on the transition to life after college athletics, according to a university news release. The three steps will include activities focused on academic and personal goals for undergraduate athletes, with internships offered to select athletes; a mentoring program for graduating athletes to help with the transition to life after college; and an alumni program designed to connect former athletes with current ones through an electronic career network. The programs are planned to be implemented this fall.

“Through the programs provided by the Gossett Center, we will be positioned better than ever to recruit and retain world-class athletes by supporting their athletic and academic careers from the moment they step on campus to well after graduation,” said Damon Evans, the university’s interim athletic director.

The announcement of Gossett’s donation comes at a critical time for the Maryland athletic department, as it begins its search for a new athletic director. The school announced the resignation of Kevin Anderson last Friday, which followed Anderson’s puzzling six-month sabbatical that started in October. The school expects Evans, who took over for Anderson at the start of the sabbatical, to be a candidate for the vacancy. Maryland has yet to announce the formation of an internal search committee or the hiring of a search firm, though they did say Friday that a “national search” would start in the coming weeks.

Fundraising will be one of the biggest tasks for the next athletic director, specifically with the Cole Field House project. The construction of Cole Field House, which made Maryland the last football program in the Big Ten to have an indoor football facility, was raised 25 percent to $196 million last summer, $19 million of which the athletic department is on the hook for. A university spokesperson said Friday that Maryland remains “nearly two thirds to our goal for the Cole Field House project.”

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