$10 million gift promised to Terps


December 04, 2007|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN REPORTER

College Park -- Barry Gossett was never much of an athlete - a coach once threatened to time him with a sundial, he says - but he always believed in the power of sports.

"You learn teamwork," the Baltimore businessman said. "You really learn that you have to depend on other people and that other people will depend on you."

Yesterday, his love of sports - and the University of Maryland - was demonstrated when the university announced a $10 million gift from a charitable trust established by Gossett and his wife, Mary. Eighty percent will go toward sports programs, making it the largest private gift by an individual in the history of the university's athletics.

The biggest chunk, $4.5 million, will be devoted to athletics facilities, what Gossett called "bricks and mortar."

It is unclear which buildings will benefit. The university is raising money for improvements to such facilities as Byrd Stadium and the Varsity Team House, which houses locker rooms and training rooms for lacrosse and other sports, but university officials said those projects might be complete before the university receives the Gossetts' donations, which will be after their deaths.

The gift also specifies endowments of $1 million each for the athletic director, football and men's basketball, to be used as those programs see fit.

Gossett, 67, who was an usher at Byrd Stadium as a youth, said he didn't want to attach too many strings.

"Some people want to control what they give, even from the grave," Gossett said after a ceremony yesterday at the multipurpose football building that bears his name. Football coach Ralph Friedgen, men's basketball coach Gary Williams and top administrators attended.

"I get a big kick out of giving the money and sitting back and seeing what happens," Gossett said.

Gossett is a frequent contributor to the university. Athletic director Debbie Yow said yesterday that she wouldn't have been able to balance the athletic department budget in 1996 if not for a surprise gift from the Gossetts.

Gossett is chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore-based Acton Mobile Industries. He is a member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland.


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