At a meeting this morning, the University of Maryland's Board of Regents has unanimously approved a move to the Big Ten Conference in time for the 2014 school year, university sources have told ESPN. The potential move was first reported over the weekend and marks a stunning end to Maryland's 59-year affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference, a conference in which it was a charter member.
The dramatic shake-up seems to be the first move in a renewed round of realignment which will likely see Rutgers of the Big East join the Big Ten as the Conference's 14th member and UConn join the ACC as a replacement for Maryland. According to the Chicago Tribune the Big Ten's aggressive courtship of Maryland began shortly after Notre Dame agreed to move all its sports other than Football and Hockey to the ACC. The university's athletic department has been facing a massive budget shortfall which recently caused the school to drop seven varsity sports this summer. Major hurdles remain including the ACC's new $50 million exit penalty (raised from $20 million after Notre Dame recently agreed to play a five game Football schedule against ACC opponents).
Earlier this year, Maryland eliminated seven varsity sports to close the athletic department’s multimillion-dollar budget deficit. Meanwhile, the Big Ten distributed $284 million in revenue to its 12 schools this fiscal year, a substantial portion of which derived from its contract with the Big Ten Network, which broadcasts the conference’s games to 73 million cable and satellite subscribers. Most of the schools received $24.6 million.
The ACC and ESPN announced a 15-year, $3.6 billion extension; of their television agreement in May, divisible to about $17 million per school each year.
Sources: Terps accept Big Ten invite
The University of Maryland's Board of Regents on Monday voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference and leave the Atlantic Coast Conference, sources told ESPN on Monday.
The board unanimously approved the move to the Big Ten, a regent told ESPN. An afternoon announcement is expected.
Sources also said that Rutgers is expected to follow the Terrapins and will announce its own move from the Big East to the Big Ten, possible as early as Tuesday. A Scarlet Knights move would give the Big Ten 14 members.
The move seems nothing more than a straight cash grab for both the Big Ten and the University of Maryland. To be honest outside of its location just outside of the Washington DC media market, the nation's 8th largest, Maryland brings very little to the table for the Big Ten. Despite its status as its state's flagship university Maryland football lacks the enthusiastic following in the DC region of schools such as Virgina and Virginia Tech. Big Ten fans will be quick to point to the historical success of the Maryland Men's Basketball team as a way to fortify the nation's strongest basketball conference, however Maryland has recently been an ACC also-run and I can't see how recruits from the talent rich Tidewater region would be more stoked to play hoops games against Northwestern and Nebraska than Duke and North Carolina. In the long term I think this move, especially if its combined with the addition of Rutgers, dilutes the Big Ten brand. Despite the fact that Rutgers is located in the New York City media market, huge concentrations of Big Ten alums are already in the region so I doubt the addition of Rutgers will bring that many more viewers to the Big Ten network. Eye balls aside, Kansas and Louisville would probably be much better fits for the conference than Maryland and Rutgers.
Updates to follow as this breaking story unfolds.