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. But tradition and history were not as important to school President Wallace 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 at a news conference with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson.
Loh said talks with the Big Ten intensified over the last two weeks. Maryland is subject to a $50 million exit fee from the ACC, though Loh said Monday that the exact figure is something we will discuss in private with the ACC. But Loh said that new revenue, largely generated by the Big Ten’s own television network, will offset that, and more.
The Big Ten said it paid out roughly $23.7 million to each of its 12 member schools in the most recent fiscal year, and the conference is in position to renegotiate its television deal in 2017, which will likely yield more money.
In May, the ACC signed a new TV deal with ESPN that will bring in roughly $15 million per school annually through 2027. Even with other revenue from the ACC – which recently added Notre Dame for all sports except football – Maryland officials believe the financial windfall from the Big Ten will far outweigh the benefits of staying.
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 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.
Maryland will become the southernmost member of the Big Ten, starting in July 2014. Rutgers is expected to follow suit by today, but Delany would not confirm that.
Maryland gives the Big Ten a presence in the major 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.