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April 11, 2001

Notre Dame and Maryland To Meet In 2002 Kickoff Classic

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Notre Dame and Maryland will meet in Kickoff Classic XX on Sunday, August 25, 2002 at Giants Stadium. The game will be nationally televised by ABC Sports.

"The 2002 Kickoff Classic captures the essential character of our college football tradition with a match-up of the country's leading intercollegiate athletic programs," NJSEA President and CEO James A. DiEleuterio, Jr. said. "We look forward to hosting the student-athletes, coaches, families and fans of these two great schools."

Georgia Tech and Syracuse will meet in Kickoff Classic XIX on Aug. 26, 2001 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Tickets for this year's game go on sale Monday, April 30 at 12 noon. Tickets are $40 and $25 and will be available at the Continental Airlines Arena Box office and all Ticketmaster outlets and online at ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone, call (201) 507-8900 or (212) 307-7171.

"We're thrilled to be coming to the Meadowlands once again in 2002," Notre Dame Director of Athletics Kevin White said. "Notre Dame has had a long history of playing at Giants Stadium, including in the Kickoff Classic in 1989. It's a great opportunity for us to play in front of our many fans and alumni on the East Coast -- and it's a strong matchup against a team in Maryland that we've never had the opportunity to play."

The Irish improved from a 5-7 record the previous season to a 9-3 mark that featured a seven-game winning streak to end the '00 regular season and a first-ever Bowl Championship Series berth, in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Hopes for fifth-year coach Bob Davie's team to take the next step toward sustained national prominence (the Irish ended 15th in the final Associated Press poll for 2000 for its best finish since 1995) are built around an unusually large, talented and experienced senior class that includes 28 returning senior monogram-winners.

The Irish have the makings of another talented offense, after averaging 31.3 points (29th nationally) and 213.5 rushing yards (14th) in 2000. They hope to be as proficient as the '00 squad that set an all-time NCAA record for fewest turnovers in a season (eight -- four interceptions, four lost fumbles).

It begins at quarterback where sophomore-to-be Matt LoVecchio (73 of 125 passing for 980 yards, 11 touchdowns, one interception) helped the Irish rank 17th nationally in passing efficiency, after starting and ranking as the winning signal caller in each of Notre Dame's final seven regular-season games a year ago.

"Maryland is honored to be selected for this premier collegiate football event," Maryland Athletic Director Deborah A. Yow said. "To face Notre Dame for the first time in our university's history only adds to what should be a landmark event for our program. With a sizable alumni base within a three-hour radius of the Meadowlands, the Terps will be supported by thousands of fans. And, the national television exposure will be a plus to our recruiting efforts."

Maryland enters the 2001 season under the guidance of first-year head coach Ralph Friedgen, a '69 Maryland grad who was named head coach this past December. Friedgen was architect of Georgia Tech's high-powered offense for nine of the past 14 years and was the offensive coordinator for Bobby Ross at Maryland when the Terps won three consecutive ACC titles in the mid-'80s.

Maryland returns 17 starters - eight each on offense and defense, as well as the nation's second-leading returning punter in Brooks Barnard. The 2001 Terps also boast one of the nation's top linebacker crews, headed by three-year letterman Aaron Thompson and junior E.J. Henderson.

"This is an outstanding way to start our 2002 football season," Maryland Football Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I was fortunate enough to be a part of the '91 Kickoff Classic when I coached at Georgia Tech. It is truly an outstanding event. I know it will be memorable for everyone associated with our program: players, coaches, fans and alumni."

This will mark the second appearance for Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic and first for Maryland. Notre Dame defeated Virginia, 36-13, in the 1989 game. Notre Dame has a 9-0 record at Giants Stadium, most recently a 28-27 win over Army on October 14, 1995. Maryland will be facing Notre Dame in football for the first time in the 2002 Kickoff Classic.

Two teams that played in the Kickoff Classic have gone on to win the national championship -- Florida State in 1993 and Nebraska in 1994. In addition, five defending national champions have appeared in the Classic -- Penn State (1983), Miami (1984), Brigham Young (1985), Notre Dame (1989) and Georgia Tech (1991).

The Kickoff Classic is managed by the NJSEA under the auspices of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). Beneficiaries of the game are the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, the American Football Coaches Association, NACDA, the Independent College Fund of New Jersey and the John McLendon Memorial Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Fund.

The 2002 game might be the final game in the Kickoff Classic series due to NCAA legislation that eliminates annual preseason exempted contests after the 2002 playing season. "I anticipate our last two games will be sellouts," NACDA Executive Director Mike Cleary said. "Based on the charities we support from the game, we have been encouraged to seek a continuation of the game and are working with the NCAA to accomplish this in a timely manner."

In the 18-year history of the game, the NFF and College Hall of Fame have received over $7 million in Kickoff Classic proceeds, much of which has been distributed in post-graduate scholarships to deserving scholar athletes. The Independent College Fund of New Jersey has received over $475,000 from its participation with the game.

Ticket information for the 2002 game will be released at a later date.
Contact: Laurie Garrison, NACDA
Helen Strus, KOC
  John Heisler, Notre Dame
Dave Haglund, Maryland