Basketball coach to help lead fund drive at UM

September 21, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams will be co-chairman of a committee to raise $200 million for academic scholarships and has agreed to donate half a million dollars toward the effort, school officials announced yesterday.

Officials said they hope that Williams, who guided the school to its only national basketball championship two years ago, will draw attention to the campaign. The university has held only one other formal fund-raising drive, which concluded in 2002 and raised more than $450 million.

"This is my way of saying thank you to the university," Williams said at a news conference yesterday.

None of the scholarship money will be used for athletic scholarships, officials said.

Williams graduated from the university in 1968 on an athletic scholarship and makes about $1.3 million a year in base salary, according to his most recent contract. He and the school are discussing when he will make his $500,000 donation and whether it will be paid over several years.

The campaign occurs at a time when the university, like all other Maryland public colleges, is struggling financially. State funding levels have been flat, and the university had an $81 million shortfall last fiscal year.

The school has had to raise tuition nearly 30 percent over the past several years, and in-state students now pay $7,410 a semester -- among the highest rates in the country for a public university.

College Park president C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. said the scholarship drive will be part of a larger fund-raising campaign that will begin in 2006.

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