The University of Maryland announced Monday morning that it will be leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and joining the Big Ten Conference in the summer of 2014. This announcement came after rumors of the Big Ten successfully wooing Maryland started Saturday on ESPN. Rutgers will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning where they will likely announce their move from the Big East Conference to the Big Ten as well, bringing the conference to 14 teams.
This is only the latest move in musical conference chairs. Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh of the Big East Conference are leaving to join the ACC for the 2013-2014 season. With Maryland’s move, the ACC is expected to try and nab either the University of Connecticut or Louisville, which would further weaken the basketball standings of an already crippled Big East Conference, the Bleacher Report reports.
Maryland’s departure from the ACC has not been greeted with widespread support from the student body, but university President Dr. Wallace Loh holds that the move is in the best interest of the school’s athletic department, The Diamondback reports. ”I came to this university two years ago and discovered there were deficits going on for several years and nobody told me about it, and I was left with the job of having to cut teams because we’re required to balance our budget and I swore this would never happen again,” he said.
The move to the Big Ten would put Maryland and Rutgers in a position to make significantly more money than with their previous conferences. The Big Ten is a revenue-sharing conference, and reportedly paid its members $26.5 million for TV and media rights this past year. Maryland had to drastically cut sports teams in 2012 after a costly investment in luxury football boxes failed to sell.
Many are worried about the $50 million dollar exit fee to leave the ACC with Maryland’s finances already tenuous. Maryland has said they believe they can negotiate down the price, but Forbes also speculates that Under Armour founder and UMD alumnus Kevin Plank may be donating some of his $1.35 billion net worth to the conference move. Plank has always been a vocal supporter of Maryland’s athletic department and has donated tens of thousands of dollars worth of Under Armour uniforms and equipment to Maryland teams.