The Big Ten is officially adding one prominent television market, with a second most likely to follow, with the Maryland Board of Regents' decision on Monday morning to accept an invitation to the Big Ten. The Big Ten currently stands at 13 schools with another addition, likely Rutgers, expected to be announced as early as this week.
The news Monday morning was the conclusion to a wild weekend of speculation and worry for both programs, especially over the issue of Maryland's $50 million exit fee out of the ACC. There were also concerns that the university, a founding member of the ACC in 1953, would be reluctant to leave a conference with so many historical ties. But the possibility of a loan from the Big Ten and reports of money provided by Baltimore-based Under Armour could help the financial issues. That, coupled with the promise of a more prominent conference and a bigger piece of the Big Ten's lucrative television deal, proved enough of an impetus for the Terrapins to become the latest school to join the realignment race.
The vote was unanimous.
The ACC will try to regroup, and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the ACC could add Connecticut as soon as Tuesday.
Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that he wished Maryland luck in its endeavor.
"Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland," Swofford said. "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."
Along with Maryland jumping ship, there will likely be a decision by Rutgers to leave the Big East sometime in the next 24 hours. The Scarlet Knights have been a part of the Big East since 1991 and with the defection of Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech several years ago, West Virginia leaving this past season and Pittsburgh and Syracuse ready to bolt, most of the luster for the once proud conference is gone.
At first glance, the Big Ten's inclusion of Maryland is a bit puzzling. Currently at 4-7, the Terrapins have had a losing record in six of the past nine seasons and aren't considered among the best programs in a recently watered down ACC. Perhaps head coach Randy Edsall, in his second year at Maryland, can turn the program around. But more importantly, the program brings a lot of eyeballs to the Big Ten.
The Terrapins are conveniently located near Baltimore, the nation's No. 26 television market and just an hour from Washington, D.C., the No. 9 market in the country. This coupled with the addition of Rutgers, just 40 minutes from New York City, would give the Big Ten a hold in some of the most largest markets with an eye towards their television negotiations in 2017. The already lucrative Big Ten Network could receive an even bigger bump in revenue for the schools with Maryland, and perhaps Rutgers.
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