NEW YORK – Maryland is joining the Big Ten, leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference in a shocker of a move in the world of conference realignment.
The university’s announcement is to come Monday at a news conference with school President Wallace D. Loh, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and athletic director Kevin Anderson.
Maryland will become a Big Ten member starting in 2014. Rutgers is expected follow suit by Tuesday, splitting from the Big East and making it an even 14 schools in the Big Ten.
The Terrapins were a charter member of the ACC, which was founded in 1953.
“Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement.
“Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit. For the past 60 years the Atlantic Coast Conference has exhibited leadership in academics and athletics. This is our foundation and we look forward to building on it as we move forward.”
There was speculation last week the Big Ten and Maryland were talking. On Saturday, it became clear the discussions were serious.
The addition of Maryland extends the Big Ten farther east and south than it ever has been, and gives the conference a presence in the Washington, D.C., media market.
Rutgers, in New Brunswick, N.J., and about 40 miles south of New York City, gives the Big Ten a member in the country’s largest media market.
For both schools, the move should come with long-term financial gain. The Big Ten reportedly paid its members $24.6 million in shared television and media rights revenues this year.
There will be some financial matters to resolve in the short term, though.
After the ACC added Notre Dame as a member in all sports but football and hockey in September, the league voted to raise the exit fee to $50 million. Maryland was one of two schools that voted against the increased exit fee.
The Big East’s exit fee is $10 million, but the league also requires a 27-month notification period for departing members. That means Rutgers will not be able to join the Big ten until 2015 without working out some kind of deal with the Big East.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia have all negotiated early withdrawals from the Big East in the past year.
The ACC could now be in the market for another member, and it would not be surprising if it looks to the Big East yet again. Connecticut would seem a perfect fit after Pitt and Syracuse join next season.
The Big Ten added Nebraska in 2010 to go to 12 members, and Delany had given every indication that the conference was happy to stay at that number. The conference had given no indication it was in the expansion market.
The question now is whether this sparks more realignment from conferences that weren’t affected. The Big 12 has indicated it is comfortable with its current 10 members, including newcomers West Virginia and TCU, but there has always been some sentiment within the conference to at some time go back to 12 – at least.
The Southeastern Conference reached 14 members this season with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri.
The Big East, which has plans to become a 12-team, four-time zone conference next season, could be in real trouble again – especially if UConn is wooed by the ACC.
The Big East was hoping that adding Boise State and San Diego State, and maybe persuading BYU to join, would make it a strong enough football conference to justify its far-flung nature and make up for its lack of traditional powers and rivalries.
But if it sustains more losses, while it’s trying to negotiate a pivotal new TV deal, will Boise State and San Diego State renege on their commitments to the Big East?
And will Maryland’s departure spur other ACC schools – such as Florida State – to eye a new home?
For now, though, Maryland is the latest school to forsake tradition to potentially gain more revenue. The Terps have mostly been a middling football program for several decades, though its men’s basketball teams have been consistently strong, winning a national title in 2002.
Maryland this year cut seven sports programs because of budget concerns and has been having a hard time filling its newly renovated football stadium.
For more on this story, visit www.journalgazette.net later today or see Tuesday's print edition of The Journal Gazette.
David Ginsburg of the Associated Press in College Park, Md., contributed to this report.