Private funding keeps Maryland men's outdoor track & field running

The Maryland men's outdoor track and field team will be able to operate at least until the school enters the Big Ten in July 2014, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a news release Tuesday.

Maryland said the $888,000 raised via private funds months ago, will be enough to preserve the sport for two more seasons.

After that, Maryland is expected to reap a financial windfall from shared conference television revenue and could be in position to restore a number of sports that were dropped last July.

The men's outdoor track and field team was spared in July because it accumulated enough private funds to compete at least during the 2012-13 outdoor season.

But other sports were eliminated, including men's cross country and indoor track and field, men's tennis, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, women's water polo and women's acrobatics and tumbling, formerly called competitive cheer.

It was reported in July that Maryland would need to raise at least $1.88 million by Dec. 31 to extend the men's outdoor team beyond the 2011-12 season. The university's website, Save our Sports, seemed to confirm that.

The site, which is still up and running, says: "Our focus now is on meeting the next two fundraising benchmarks in order to save the program beyond one year."

It listed the first benchmark as raising "$1.88 million cumulative total in cash donations by Dec. 31, 2012."

But Maryland said Tuesday that, in fact, $888,084 will be enough to sustain the program for two more seasons instead of one.

After that, the decision to move to the Big Ten "will provide enormous benefits to the University of Maryland, both athletically and academically," Maryland president Wallace Loh said in a release. "The continuation of our storied track and field program is a great first step."

Maryland recently formed a commission that will study whether dropped teams can be restored. The commission will also study fundraising for athletics and how Maryland can use the Big Ten Network "to tell the University of Maryland story, in academics and in athletics," the school said.

Track coach Andrew Valmon did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday night. Valmon also was the coach of the U.S. men's track and field team at the Olympic Games in London.

The Maryland men's outdoor track and field team has 14 members. That's about half of the roster of the men's track and field program that competed last spring before cross country and indoor track and field were eliminated.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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