The Maryland Terrapins will open the 2002 football season against Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic, the university announced yesterday.
The game will be played on Aug. 25 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and will be televised nationally by ABC. It will be Maryland's first appearance in the game, which began in 1983, and also the school's first meeting with Notre Dame.
Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow called the game a "premier collegiate football event," and said the school would benefit from what she described as a large alumni base near the Meadowlands Sports Complex in northern New Jersey. Plus, Yow said in a statement, "the national television exposure will be a plus to our recruiting efforts."
Kickoff Classic spokeswoman Helen Strus said Notre Dame was the anchor school for the game, but that Maryland had previously expressed interest in playing in the Classic.
Strus said she had "no idea if anyone else was considered, but we're happy with Notre Dame and Maryland."
Yow said that with Ralph Friedgen coming in as coach this season, it was the right time for Maryland to showcase its football program.
"We felt like we had an opportunity to maximize the change," said Yow, president of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics, which is one of the Classic's sponsors.
Because Friedgen "has a tremendous amount of respect nationally ... everyone agreed that it was a very intriguing matchup," she said.
Maryland's athletic department will get approximately $750,000 for participating, as will Notre Dame. The game will not count against the NCAA limit of 12 regular-season games.
Maryland will be one of the last schools to get this exemption, which the NCAA will stop in 2003.
"This is an outstanding way to start off the 2002 season," said Friedgen, a Georgia Tech assistant in the 1991 Classic. "It is truly an outstanding event. I know it will be memorable for everyone associated with our program - players, coaches, fans and alumni.
"It's something to motivate everyone. It's a great indicator of where we want to go with this program."
Maryland will be the fifth Atlantic Coast Conference school in the Classic, following Virginia (1989), Georgia Tech (1991), North Carolina State (1992) and Florida State (1993 and 1998). Notre Dame beat Virginia, 36-13, in the 1989 Classic.
This is the first time the teams have been announced a year in advance.