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Report: Maryland set to make pitch to Big Ten

The University of Maryland is in talks to join the Big Ten Conference, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

One said the announcement of Maryland’s move to the Big Ten could be made within days. Another said the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents was to be presented with a written proposal today but has yet to vote on the issue. The board will meet Monday to discuss the issue after receiving a written summary from Wallace D. Loh, the school’s president, and Brit Kirwan, chancellor of the University of Maryland system.

The sources requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak on the university’s behalf. Reached by telephone on Saturday night, Kirwan declined to comment. Multiple messages requesting comment were left for Anderson and Loh.

Maryland is a charter member of the ACC, which was formed in 1953. But a move to the Big Ten would be an economic boon for the school’s athletic department, which this year cut seven varsity sports because of declining financial fortunes.

Thanks in part to the financially lucrative Big Ten Network, the conference distributed $284 million to its 12 schools this fiscal year, with 11 receiving $24.6 million each and Nebraska, which joined the league in 2011, receiving about $14 million.

In May, the ACC and ESPN announced a 15-year extension of their coverage agreement, which would pay the conference about $3.6 billion over the course of the contract. That equates to about $17 million a year per school, an increase of more than $4 million from the league’s previous contract.

According to one individual privy to internal discussions within the Maryland athletic department, the school is also considering the move because of academics. Big Ten members, along with the University of Chicago, a former member of the conference, comprise the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium in which members collaborate on academic endeavors. Opportunities for expanding research in the agricultural, biotechnological and engineering fields, the individual said, presented an allure for Maryland.

In mid-September, the ACC voted to add Notre Dame as the conference’s 13th member. At the same time, the conference announced that it would increase the exit fee for teams wishing to leave from $20 million to roughly $50 million, or three years’ worth of the conference’s annual revenue distribution. Schools wishing to leave also have to give the conference 10 months’ notice.

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