The tapes of the Maryland men’s basketball team’s past are becoming grainier, the sound faltering before cutting out entirely.
There’s the Bud Millikan era — featuring 90 reels of film and three videotapes full of short shorts, high socks and sky hooks. There’s the highs-and-lows for the Terps, from Frank Fellows to Lefty Driesell, Bob Wade to Gary Williams, all the way to Mark Turgeon’s current tenure in College Park.
But the history obtained by the University Archives faces the test of time, and time usually comes out on top. The Archives have accumulated over 4000 pieces of game footage, highlight reels and interviews on film and videotape from 1953 to 2014. The next hurdle, though, is to digitize that material, preserving for the future the Terps’ past.
Because videotapes and film reels deteriorate with age, Launch UMD — the university’s crowdfunding platform — has formed a campaign to raise $500,000 to preserve the hardwood heroics for future generations, hoping to digitize the history while making the videos available online through the university archives. It’s a unique challenge for Laurainne Ojo-Ohikuare, the Maryland athletics archivist.
“It can be intimidating,” Ojo-Ohikaure said. “But it is very exciting, because a campaign like this is necessary.”
Ojo-Ohikuare was hired in September as the athletic archivist for the university’s special collections in Hornbake Library. Her background includes a master’s degree in library and information sciences and another in Irish studies and literature. But Ojo-Ohikaure has a passion for sports, as well, helping inform her work with Maryland.
“I was a volleyball player in college,” she said. “I dabbled in basketball and soccer. I come from a sports family.”
Before Ojo-Ohikuare’s arrival, her predecessors — Amanda Hawk and university archivist Anne Turkos — visited Driesell, the coach who led the Terps to an ACC tournament championship in 1984. Driesell donated 113 pieces of game footage that have since been digitized and are available for viewing online. But there is a plethora of other tapes and reels in need of similar efforts to keep them playable.
So, the $500,000 goal will go toward preserving and digitizing the more than 5,000 hours of Maryland basketball content held by the archives. Those videos will also be made available online for the public once preserved, though the longer it takes the likelihood of lost audio and imperfect video quality increases.
“Because there is such a high demand for film, we thought that this would be a great opportunity actually to get it all digitized,” Ojo-Ohikaure said.
Since Maryland’s first full season in 1910-11, the program has won six conference championships, produced 42 NBA draft picks and seen guard Juan Dixon heave the ball toward the roof in Atlanta as the final second of the 2002 national title game wound to a close with the Terps as champions.
Those moments and more will fade away if not preserved, and UMD Launch is seeking donations to ensure they remain available well into the future. A $10 donation would digitize two minutes of film or six minutes of video, while $60 would enable the archives to digitize an entire game on video tape, or eight minutes of film. Meanwhile, $1000 would help digitize nearly 17 videotaped games or three games on film.
Terps fans can head to https://www.launch.umd.edu/ for more information on the project and how to donate.
“You are able to learn what the project is, what the money is going towards, film versus videotape, and what it takes to preserve it, and updates,” Oji-Ohikaure said. “Maryland has a strong and rich history, especially in the ACC, [and] I know the transition to the Big Ten was a huge deal.”