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Summer mailbag: Answering your questions about the Terps

Here are the answers to your questions about Maryland athletics as the offseason churns along.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Greenville Regional Photo by Jacob Kupferman/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

As the month of June comes to a close, we are in the midst of the quietest time of the sports calendar. So naturally, we asked readers to submit questions for a summer mailbag earlier this week and you answered with some interesting queries that deserved detailed responses.

Thank you to those who sent in questions! If you didn’t get a chance to submit one, there will be more opportunities to do so later in the year.

You can also listen to answers to these questions (and a few bonus ones) in audio form on this week’s episode of the Testudo Talk Podcast.

Note: Questions have been edited for brevity.

Why doesn’t Maryland transform Ludwig Field into a soccer/lacrosse complex? Every school in the Big Ten that plays lacrosse with the exception of Maryland and Rutgers now has its own lacrosse complex. Playing in a 50,000-seat stadium is not an ideal situation.

This is something that a lot of Maryland fans have been clamoring for, and for good reason. The quainter stadiums most college lacrosse teams play in generally have far better environments than bigger stadiums, mostly because of their intimacy. This is especially true for a program like Maryland that hosts so many high-profile games that often feel a bit watered down because of the thousands of empty bleachers. We especially saw this during the spring when the women’s lacrosse team had to spend a season at SECU Stadium instead of the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex, which feels a lot homier.

But the reality is that even though a lacrosse-specific, or just generally smaller, venue would provide some advantages, John Tillman and the Maryland men’s lacrosse team are content with their current situation. Tillman has remarked many times before that he much prefers playing on artificial turf instead of natural grass (a requirement for a soccer stadium) and there would surely be scheduling conflicts with the soccer teams if anyone wanted to use their home stadium for training in the offseason. Also, the renovations to Gossett Hall have the team in nice quarters that they probably aren’t in much of a rush to leave — and the athletic department in no rush to move them out of.

In short, I absolutely agree that a smaller lacrosse stadium would be better for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t seem like much of a priority for the school right now. For what it’s worth, it definitely hasn’t hurt the team’s performance and players don’t really seem to mind.

Now that the new basketball facility has broken ground, what’s next on the facilities list? I know soccer started a capital campaign for a new stadium but the website is notably absent of any information.

It took a lot of time and pressure to finally get the basketball facility off the ground (or into the ground, I guess), so it’s going to be hard for Maryland to get things rolling for any major projects before that’s done in mid-to-late 2025. But, there are a few smaller improvements that should be done in the near future in addition to the nearly-completed renovations to the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.

To start, the football stadium is currently being retrofitted with new LED lights. Similar lights were added at Ludwig Field last year, and after Maryland scored there would be a celebratory light show. We’ll probably see something similar at SECU Stadium this season when the Terps score touchdowns. It’s nothing revolutionary, but one of those small things that makes the experience of going to games just a bit more engrossing for fans.

The next facilities to break ground will be new baseball and softball hitting facilities, both of which I believe are scheduled to begin construction in the fall. The Maryland baseball facilities have been a sharp topic of conversation in recent years given the team’s success despite lacking resources in comparison to its competition, and while its stadium hasn’t undergone any serious renovations yet, an improved performance center in left field to replace the existing bubble is a step forward. The same can be said for softball, which has a decent stadium situation but is looking to make a leap in the Big Ten after steady improvement and should benefit from a dedicated building.

There’s also an improved golf facility and new video boards for smaller venues like Ludwig Field and Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium on the docket, but no confirmed details on those plans yet.

As for the new soccer stadium, I wouldn’t expect much on that front for a while. The athletic department has sunk over $200 million into facility upgrades over the past few years and the truth is that soccer simply isn’t a priority for the donors that could really move the needle with the type of money needed to build an entirely new stadium.

Also, it’s not totally clear from the renderings or plans where this new stadium would go, and I would be very curious if they have space for such a venue if it isn’t just built on top of Ludwig Field, which would cause a problem for the school’s track and field team since the current plans don’t include a track. I suppose they could build it over one of the existing parking lots or intramural fields next to XFINITY Center, but for anyone unfamiliar with the current state of Maryland’s campus, space is at a premium right now and construction has cut into some of the places that may have worked for a new stadium previously. My guess is that a new soccer stadium is years away from breaking ground, if that.

Do you have any updates on the statuses of Eric Malever and Kyle McCoy?

I was able to report earlier this week that Kyle McCoy had to undergo Tommy John surgery and will likely miss the 2024 season after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. When he was first scratched from a scheduled start this season a few months ago, I inquired to some people with knowledge of his status and was told that the team was already preparing for the worst and had a sense that he might be in for a long recovery. It seems that they were right, and I’m sure his Big Ten Tournament start that lasted less than an inning and saw him look unlike his usual self didn’t help. On a more positive note, he seemed to be in good spirits post-operation and there should be some transfer help on the way for the Terps’ pitching staff.

With regards to Eric Malever, I haven’t heard much since his initial injury in September, which was a pretty brutal blow to his leg — two ligament tears and a broken tibia. He was immediately ruled out for the 2023 season, which was obviously very disappointing to the team since he was a prime candidate to wear the No. 1 jersey. That being said, the average recovery time for each of Malever’s individual injuries is less than a year, but whether or not having multiple injuries at once pushes that timeline back is something I can’t answer and don’t want to speculate on. It’s likely that only Malever, his doctors and the people around him have a true idea of when he’ll be back to 100%.

We saw something not too dissimilar with Dontay Demus Jr.’s injury in 2021, and that took him over a year to fully recover from. I can’t say for sure how the two injuries compare since Malever’s occurred behind closed doors and Demus Jr.’s recovery was more public, but I’d say that chances are good Malever will be back for the 2024 season since he has the benefit of over 12 months before he would return to game action.

Any sense of how many (and what type of) games will be shown only on Peacock this coming year? I ask this because I’ve seen a special of $20 for an entire year.

The Big Ten’s deal with NBC that starts this fall states that eight football games per season will be available exclusively on Peacock, and the first three of those have been announced already, none of which include Maryland. But, the remaining five games will be announced at later dates, and depending on how Maryland is playing, it’s not unrealistic to think it could be stashed on Peacock for a game against a lower-wattage opponent. I’m assuming that the Ohio States and Michigans of the conference will always be on network television since they are of immense national interest, but who knows — they might try and leverage that to haul in more subscriptions.

Think of it kind of like the NFL’s broadcasting situation. Thursday night games, Monday night games and high-profile matchups are earmarked for certain broadcast crews in advance, but Sunday night’s game is usually flexed not more than a week or two before. Cowboys vs. Giants will pretty much always get the network’s A-team because it generates huge ratings, but if there’s a week where two undefeated teams play, that game might get optioned to prime time even if the teams don’t play in the biggest markets. On the flip side, if the 3-6 Browns play the 1-8 Texans, you’ll be hearing whatever the Peacock equivalent of CBS’ NFL commentary team is on the call. The decision as to whose games are prioritized by the networks weighs a lot of different factors.

So, to apply that to Big Ten football, whether or not Maryland plays on Peacock is likely going to be a complicated combination of other matchups that week, who the Terps are playing and what their record is. Nobody knows for sure yet, but it’s plausible to assume they could play one — probably not more than that — football game on Peacock and perhaps a few basketball games. However, like I said before, there’s also a chance that executives leverage the fact that Big Ten football could bring a lot of new subscribers to Peacock, the same way that ESPN has put some ranked college basketball games on ESPN+ even though they would likely get higher ratings on cable.

If you’re the type of fan that can’t miss a game no matter the sport, there will probably be enough Maryland games on Peacock this upcoming year to justify a cheap yearly deal if it’ll cost you less than a few months’ subscription, but I can’t say for sure. Most football and basketball games will still be on network or cable TV, but we’ll probably see a lot of Olympic sports on Big Ten Plus and a few games from revenue sports on Peacock as well.

What are the sources of the most realistic and reliable NIL deals?

If you’re asking where the best places are to get numbers for athletes’ NIL deals, my answer would be to look at local sources most familiar with each school’s collective. A lot of people have misconceptions about NIL, and since it’s mostly unregulated, every school has a different approach to it. They’re becoming harder and harder to find these days, but see if you can find a specific team’s local insider or beat reporter. They will be your best resource on that school’s NIL situation.

NIL is probably the most confusing aspect of college sports right now. Nobody really understands it, and most administrators and coaches are kind of winging it and hoping they aren’t breaking the rules. And that’s not much of a concern since there aren’t really rules, and any that supposedly exist aren’t enforced.

Pretty much any number you hear about an NIL deal, unless explicitly announced by a participating party, is a guess — maybe an informed guess, but an approximation nonetheless. There isn’t anywhere you can go to see truly accurate numbers unless they are announced by those involved in the deal since these agreements are between private entities that are under no legal requirement to disclose details.

We all see these rumors about wild $10-million-plus NIL deals, but my general recommendation is to take whatever number people are floating and subtract about a third or so from that — probably more for the bigger ones. Outside of a very small group of schools, people aren’t really throwing around millions of dollars with ease like some would lead you to believe. Someone like Caleb Williams, for example, can garner seven figures because he is a special player, plays for a big brand and is in a massive market, but I have a very hard time believing there is a college athlete out there currently on an eight-figure deal like some that have been rumored.

It will be interesting to see if that changes now that we’ll have our first summer Olympics of the NIL era next year with some college athletes participating, but in terms of pay-for-play, these numbers are generally inflated. Are some athletes getting paid very handsomely for their services and is NIL being used as a tool to lure people to a school? Absolutely. But the market is not as lucrative as you may think, and far more NIL deals are done worth somewhere around $100 than worth life-changing sums. And frankly, if anyone is being promised millions to play a college sport, they better ask for the money upfront or else they risk being lied to about what’s actually available.