Maryland joining Big Ten; Rutgers may not be far behind
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Choosing to look toward the future rather than honor the past, Maryland joined the Big Ten on Monday, bolting from the ACC in a move driven by the school's budget woes.
Rutgers is expected follow suit by Tuesday, splitting from the Big East and making it an even 14 schools in the Big Ten, though Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wouldn't confirm that.
Maryland was a charter member of the ACC, which was founded in 1953. Tradition and history, however, weren't as important to school president Wallace D. Loh as the opportunity to be linked with the prosperous Big Ten.
“By being a member of the Big Ten Conference, we are able to ensure financial stability for Maryland athletics for decades to come,” Loh said at a news conference with Delany and athletic director Kevin Anderson.
Loh and other school officials involved in the decision decided that the potential money to be made in the Big Ten was more significant than the $50 million exit fee and the tradition associated with belonging to the same conference for 59 years.
“I am very aware that for many of our Terps fans and alumni, their reaction is stunned and disappointed. But we will always cherish the memories, the rivalries, the tradition of the ACC,” Loh said. “For those alumni and Terp fans, I will now say this: I made this decision as best as I could ...”
Maryland eliminated seven sports programs earlier this year, and Loh said the shift to the Big Ten could provide enough of a windfall to restore some of those sports.
Delany said Maryland's entry was approved unanimously by the conference's 12 presidents.
“Quite honestly, they were giddy,” Delany said.
Penn State AD Dave Joyner also is pleased.
“Penn State welcomes the University of Maryland to the Big Ten Conference with tremendous enthusiasm,” he said.
Maryland will become the southernmost member of the Big Ten starting in July 2014. It gives the Big Ten a presence in the media market of Washington. D.C.
Rutgers, in New Brunswick, N.J., and about 40 miles south of New York City, puts the Big Ten in the country's largest media market and most heavily populated area.
“We realize that all of the major conferences are slightly outside of their footprint,” Delany said. “We believe that the association (with Maryland) is one that will benefit both of us.”
For Rutgers and Maryland, the move should come with long-term financial gain. The Big Ten reportedly paid its members $24.6 million in shared television and media rights revenues this year.
Delany said demographics were a huge part of this decision. The population isn't growing as quickly in the Big Ten's Midwestern footprint as it is in other areas of the country, and it has hampered the Big Ten's ability to recruit, especially in football, its signature sport. The Big Ten felt it needed to change that.
“We think demographics have fueled our growth the last 100 years,” Delany said. “...What we're doing is not creating a new paradigm, we're responding to a new paradigm but for very kind of historic reasons. We understand that success requires a dynamic involvement with rich demographics.”