The four official colors of the University of Maryland are drawn from the striking and distinctive Maryland state flag. The red, white, black, and gold represent the shield in the coat of arms of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore and original colonial proprietor of Maryland. The shield features alternating quadrants of yellow and black colors from his paternal family, the Calverts, together with the red and white colors of his maternal family, the Crosslands. The Maryland General Assembly adopted a banner of this design as the state flag in 1904.
The University of Maryland did not always have four official colors, however. Early athletic uniforms were simply gray or maroon and gray, and it was commonplace for each graduating class to select its individual colors.
The transition to black and gold occurred in the early 1920s and these two hues dominated until 1942, when then football coach Clark Shaughnessy switched the team uniforms to red and white. Black and gold remained in the mix as accents and occasionally returned as the predominant colors, as in the case of the men's basketball uniforms of the mid 1980s. Today, all four colors are proudly featured in Terps' athletic uniforms.
Click here for more information on the history of the Maryland state flag.