Legendary Coach’s Donation Part of Campaign to Preserve Terps Basketball History
Former men's basketball coach Lefty Driesell donated 113 pieces of videotape and film (below) from his time at Maryland, which University Archives has digitized as part of its LaunchUMD campaign. The videotape and film are susceptible to deterioration over time, as seen below.
The Terps men’s basketball regular season is winding down, with just two home games remaining after tomorrow’s vs. Ohio State. But University Archives is working to make sure fans can have game footage at their fingertips anytime they’d like—years’ worth of it.
UMD’s archivists recently digitized 113 pieces of film and videotape donated by legendary former coach Lefty Driesell, including game clips, highlight reels and more. The footage, available on University Libraries’ Digital Collections site, is part of a larger LaunchUMD crowdfunding campaign that is seeking $500,000 to preserve Maryland basketball history from 1953 to 2014.
“He was kind of just the first original donor on the heels of starting this project,” UMD Athletics Archivist Laurainne Ojo-Ohikuare said of Driesell. “It’s great because his contribution kind of gave people a visual of what we’re trying to do.”
Much of the footage from the Driesell era (1969–1986)—including classic rivalry matchups vs. Duke, North Carolina State and North Carolina—was at risk of being lost for good. Videotape, susceptible to wear and tear, has a deterioration rate of about 30 years, with film at about 40. Even if the picture is crystal clear on film, it can easily lose its sound, and during a process called “vinegar syndrome,” it breaks down, becomes brittle and emits a stinky odor.
So in 2016, University Archivist Emerita Anne Turkos and former Athletics Archivist Amanda Hawk took a trip to Driesell’s condo in Virginia Beach, discovering a trove of footage from the early ’70s through his Maryland career. The coach, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year, was on board with the preservation project, and although some of his pieces had lost their sound, all 113 passed the quality inspection for digitization.
“It wasn’t enough for us to just digitize them and do a blog post,” Ojo-Ohikuare said. “We’ve really been experimenting when it comes to the use of social media.”
Hoping to raise awareness of the project, Archives posted three of Driesell’s clips to its Facebook page: one from the 1972 National Invitation Tournament, when Maryland defeated Niagara, 100–69; one called “The Toughest Test,” highlighting UMD’s 1985–86 season; and the most popular post, “House of Dreams: Cole Field House,” a 2002 documentary featuring memories from the iconic arena. Each generated thousands of views.
“I think we got the word out about what type of materials we have,” Ojo-Ohikuare said, “that there’s not only game footage, but really memorable reflective moments.”
But the project has a long way to go. Archives hopes to digitize more than 1,200 film reels and 2,800 videotapes in total, spanning the Bud Millikan to the Mark Turgeon eras. A $10 donation would digitize two minutes of film or nearly six minutes of video, while $1,000 would preserve three games on film or nearly 17 games on video. While the campaign officially ends with the Terps’ final regular-season game on March 8, fans are encouraged to keep the effort going.
“We’re really trying to get (the footage) out to the fans because these are their memories,” Ojo-Ohikuare said. “We’re trying to preserve the iconic history of UMD Athletics.”
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