COLLEGE PARK -- Greg Manning was not a natural when he played point guard for the University of Maryland basketball team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His game was self-made by spending extra hours on the court after practice.
So when the school's athletic department began a search five months ago for a new executive director for the M-Club, a group composed of former letter-winners who contribute mainly to the scholarship fund, Manning's name drew instant attention.
He was selected to replace Jack Flynn, who retired. Manning started July 8.
"He's tops," said Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger. "He is young, capable, had been involved with the athletic programs here through broadcasting. He is identifiable because he is a former athlete, and he simply loves the place. He'll help us renew what was once the most respected major, broad-based program on the East Coast."
The M-Club contributed $75,000 last year. Manning would like to double that figure.
"Goals? I have a long list," said Manning, 32. "First, we have to get this office in line with computerization to make things a little bit more organized."
The membership was nearly 300 last season with contribution levels at $25, $30 and $50. But Manning has instituted the same levels as the Maryland Educational Foundation ($25, $100, $250, $600, $1,200, $2,000, $5,000), which also contributes money, but to broader areas of the athletic department.
Manning said his group will try to offer more promotional events and benefits, such as preferential parking and seating to games, to draw former athletes.
According to Manning, an improvement can also be made in trying to get some of the recent lettermen, such as Brad Davis and John Lucas, to join the club.
"When I attended Maryland, a lot of athletes didn't know what the M-Club was or what it stood for," Manning said of the group, which has contributed $1.5 million to the athletic department since 1923.
"I'm not as concerned about the masses as I am about the amount of money involved. We must not forget that the state does not allow any money for scholarships," said Manning. "My message to the lettermen is that Maryland gave them an excellent education and a wonderful experience, and this is a chance to give something back, to get involved.
"We need a strong, internal organization to get our athletes behind the programs," said Manning. "We believe this is an exciting time at Maryland, with the football and basketball programs, the renovations and the construction of new facilities."
Manning spent eight years as an international salesman foRoadway Express Inc., a freight moving company.
He also was the color commentator for Maryland basketball games, a job he will continue to do for Maryland flagship radio station WBAL (1090 AM) this winter.
"I figured that if I was ever going to make a switch in professionsit better be soon," said Manning. "But I like the challenge of the job here, and the way this athletic department is developing. Honestly, if the job wasn't here at Maryland, I wouldn't have taken it."
Year.. .. .. Contribution1980-81.. .. .. .. $26,508.50
1981-82.. .. .. .. $36,519.00
1982-83.. .. .. .. $47,499.15
1983-84.. .. .. .. $49,998.50
1985-86.. .. .. .. $50,000.00
1986-87.. .. .. .. $50,000.00
1987-88.. .. .. .. $50,000.00
1988-89.. .. .. .. $75,000.00
1989-90.. .. .. .. $75,000.00