Andy Geiger, the University of Maryland's athletic director, said yesterday that one answer to his department's multimillion-dollar deficit may be to focus on greatly expanding membership in the Terrapin Club.
Geiger said the sports booster organization needs to more than triple its rolls, from its current 3,200 members to more than 10,000.
"We've got to go out and ask," Geiger said, referring to the ways that new members could be recruited. "It is not a quick thing. You've got to build confidence and respect. We have a lot of friend-making to do before we do fund-raising."
Geiger's comments about the Terrapin Club came as his athletic department received good news about the budget.
Geiger said this week that the department's deficit for the fiscal year just ending will fall short of the $2.7 million that had been projected because of $1.3 million the university received from, among other places, the ACC basketball TV contract and revenues from bowl games in which ACC football teams played.
The athletic department still is laboring to work out a deficit of $4 million that it had accumulated when Geiger took over his job more than a year ago. According to a 10-year plan worked out by athletic department officials, that debt was expected to rise to $7 million before it could be slowly eliminated.
A membership in the Terrapin Club is $100. Geiger said he hoped to attract new members by convincing them that they are helping to pay the bills for university players who might not be playing without them.
"It's another source of financial aid for young people in a world where financial aid is too difficult to come by," Geiger said.
He said he wanted to get away from the idea that belonging to a sports booster club "is an investment in entertainment."
"That's part of it. But it's much more investment in human beings through athletics," Geiger said.