COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Choosing to look toward the future rather than honor the past, Maryland joined the Big Ten on Monday, bolting from the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move driven by the school’s budget woes.
Maryland was a charter member of the ACC, which was founded in 1953. Tradition and history, however, were not 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 financially stability for Maryland athletics for decades to come,” Loh said, speaking at a news conference with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Athletics 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 ... to do what is best for the University of Maryland for the long haul.”
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. “Maybe some people Fear the Turtle. We embrace the Turtle.”
Maryland will become the southernmost member of the Big Ten member starting, in July 2014. Rutgers is expected follow suit today, splitting from the Big East and making it an even 14 schools in the Big Ten, though Delany would not confirm that.
But he had no problem explaining why the Big Ten would be interested in stretching its boundaries from the Midwest.
“We realize that all of the major conferences are slightly outside of their footprint,” Delany said. “We believe that the association is one that will benefit both of us.”
For Maryland, the move was not entirely based on athletics. Maryland will join the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of world-class research institutions.
“For me and for the board and for the faculty and for the students, the academic component is very, very important,” Loh said. “I would not have made this kind of deal if it was a conference that did not have this consortium.”
But money was really the driving force.
Maryland is moving to the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers is expected to announce a similar move today.
A look at how the moving parts affect the conferences involved.
Big Ten: The 117-year-old conference adds members for the second time in the past three years, following the addition of Nebraska, which joined in 2010. Maryland and Rutgers will push Big Ten membership to 14 schools and extend the league’s reach east and south.
Atlantic Coast Conference: Loses a charter member in Maryland. The ACC will have 14 schools next year, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining. Notre Dame is expected to join as soon as 2015, but not for football. The ACC will need to replace Maryland. Connecticut and Louisville from the Big East are likely candidates.
Big East: Loses one of its original football members in Rutgers at a crucial time for the conference. The Big East has lost three full members (Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia) since September 2011. The league is slated to become a 12-team football conference next season, that includes Boise State and San Diego State. It is also working on a new television deal, negotiations that will not be helped by signs of instability.
The Associated Press
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