The University of Maryland is in serious negotiations to join the Big Ten Conference, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
If Maryland goes to the Big Ten, Rutgers of the Big East is expected to follow suit. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers would give the Big Ten 14 members as the league gears toward negotiations on a new media rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.
No date has been set for an potential announcement, though it could come as soon as Monday.
If true, then one would have to figure that the ACC would quickly replace the departing Terrapins with Connecticut. For all of you itching for a matchup on the gridiron between powerhouses UConn and Boston College, you may soon get your wish.
Let's not forget though that the ACC recently raised it's exit fee to $50 million. And the Maryland athletic department isn't exactly swimming in cash right now.
One stumbling block for Maryland could be finances. Maryland's athletic department has recently dropped sports because of budget issues, and the ACC recently raised its exit fee to $50 million.
Maryland and Florida State were the only two of 12 schools that voted against a $50 million exit fee out of the ACC, but lost the vote. Loh was quoted in the Washington Post on Sept. 13 that he was against the hike from $20-50 million on "legal and philosophical" grounds. The Post reported that Loh said Maryland planned to be in the ACC for years to come.
Maryland recently dropped seven sports and having to pay $50 million would be hard to digest for the athletic department and campus.
$50 million is a lot for any athletic department, but for one that is struggling as much as Maryland's, you have to wonder where this money is going to come from. Under Armour will surely throw the Terps a sizable chunk and the B1G may help as well, but unlike West Virginia and the Big 12, the Big Ten is not in as much of a hurry to add Maryland, so it remains to be seen if the conference would help foot the bill.
The Big Ten clearly wants those D.C. and N.Y. markets. They obviously aren't picking the Terps and Rutgers for their powerhouse football programs. I know Rutgers has been a thorn in Pitt's side for the past decade and they have had some success in the past few seasons. But that doesn't make up for about 100 years worth of terrible football teams. Same goes for Rutgers basketball, which hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1990. Maryland, like Pitt, was once one of college football's elite programs. They haven't been the same under Randy Edsall. The Terrapins have had success in basketball, winning the national title in 2002.
From an ACC perspective, it would be disappointing to lose Maryland, but let's look at what we'd be trading for. The ACC would replace one mediocre football team (Maryland) with another (UConn), so that's a wash. Maryland hoops has a good tradition, but so do the Huskies. The Huskies have also had much more recent success in both revenue sports than the Terrapins, going to a BCS bowl in 2010 and winning the national title in hoops in 2011. Doesn't seem like a terrible trade in my book.
If true, which I still am skeptical of due to the Maryland's financial issues, eyes would have to shift towards the Big 12, which is still the only Big 5 conference without a conference championship game. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's still no guarantee that Maryland will head for the Big Ten, only rumors, much like this summer's rumors of Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12, which was also a guarantee to happen. Last I checked FSU and Clemson were still in the ACC.
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