The University of Maryland has instituted a new season-ticket policy for next basketball season. Anyone interested in buying season tickets first must pay at least $100 to join the Terrapin Club, Maryland's athletic booster organization.
"[Coach] Gary Williams has done a fantastic job with the program, and this is something we've got to do," said Gib Romaine, acting director of the Terrapin Club. "This is something that should have been done a long time ago."
Linking season tickets to a contribution is not an unusual practice in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Four other ACC schools have such policies. And in recent seasons, Maryland fans wishing to buy season tickets for floor seating at Cole Field House have been required to donate from $600 to $2,000.
The money raised by the Terrapin Club donation will be used to pay for athletic scholarships, for which the school receives no state funding.
Boosters can receive greater ticket-buying privileges depending on the size of their Terrapin Club donations. For $100, a member gets the right to purchase two basketball season tickets, unlimited football tickets and preferred parking for football. As a donation approaches $10,000, the member is entitled to purchase up to eight basketball season tickets, ACC tournament seats, NCAA basketball tournament tickets and football postseason bowl tickets.
However, people who already had more than two basketball season tickets and were not Terrapin Club members will be able to keep all of their seats for the $100 minimum club donation.
Athletic director Debbie Yow said the Maryland athletic department is $6.8 million in the red and has not balanced a budget since 1984, but she does not want to do it at the expense of the fans.
"I am not a person who can say this is just supply and demand and right now we're in high demand," Yow said. "When you do that, you treat people as commodities.
"People will be willing to pay the price now that the program is at the top, but if we ever stub our toe. . . . I want long-term, stable relationships."