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Maryland chipping away at its athletic debt Department balances budget third straight year

The University of Maryland athletic department officially announced that it has balanced its budget for the third straight year and remains on target to erase its $4.8 million debt in five years.

Maryland turned a $397,019 profit for the fiscal year ending June 30, but fell more than $100,000 short of its original goal. The anticipated total of $500,000 was not reached because of a major decline in football ticket sales in addition to paying off the final year of fired football coach Mark Duffner's contract.

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"I kind of think of it as a more successful year in many ways," Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said. "A lot of smaller pieces came through for us this year."

Since Yow took over the Maryland athletic department in 1994, it has finished in the black each year. She inherited a department that had not balanced its budget from 1984 through 1994, piling up a $6.8 million debt.

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In fiscal 1995, Maryland posted its first profit in 10 years at $35,036. A year later, the department turned $600,000 in profits and lowered the debt to $5.7 million.

But last year's home football schedule of Northern Illinois, Alabama-Birmingham, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech resulted in a $650,000 drop-off in ticket sales.

Off-setting that decline was revenue from the Atlantic Coast Conference football television package and from the Florida State game, which Maryland sold last year to promoters who moved it to South Florida for nearly $1 million.

The Terrapin men's basketball team also helped, clearing $300,000. Maryland also raised student fees from $175 to $200.

This year, Maryland expects to raise $1 million more in overall revenue than in 1997 and has a more favorable home football schedule with the likes of North Carolina, Duke, West Virginia, Clemson and Virginia coming to Byrd Stadium. Yow said the proposed budget for fiscal 1998 has its home football gate receipts surpassing its 1996 total in which an average of 42,121 fans came to College Park.

"Everyone continues to be a part of the solution to these long-standing, inherited financial issues," Yow said. "We can now see light at the end of the tunnel."

Pub Date: 7/18/97


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