Dana O’Neil, Brett McMurphy and Andy Katz of ESPN are all reporting that Maryland has in fact entered into serious negotiations with the Big Ten conference.
There has been no announcement made as of yet, but one could be expected as soon as Monday, and should Maryland make the move away from the ACC, Rutgers is expected to join suit and bolt the Big East.
Maryland was one of eight charter members of the ACC, helping bring the league together back in 1953.
That said, obviously, both the motivation and the largest hindrance is money.
The Big Ten has been looking to expand to 14 teams in anticipation of the negotiation of a new TV deal in 2017.
It is already the nation’s richest conference, with each of the 12 teams receiving a record $24.6 million from television revenue sharing. The prospect of playing its games on the wildly successful Big Ten Network has been a major component of the conference’s efforts in luring teams from their current, respective conferences.
However, following the defections of teams throughout the country, the ACC voted to raise its conference exit fee from $20 million to $50 million. The only two schools that had voted against the raise in the fee at the time had been Maryland and Florida State.
Asking its boosters to help shoulder the $50 million load just to change leagues will be no simple task for an athletic department that recently cut several sports due to an already sagging budget.
Rutgers, on the other hand, would only have to pay $10 million to the Big East should they provide their current conference with 27 months notice. The price to leave is higher with less notice, but that has not been a problem for West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who have all left or are leaving the conference soon.
Members on both sides, again, have been mum on the reportedly intense negotiations, but the Big Ten is looking at a potentially huge break into the New York and Washington DC markets for television, merchandise and ticket sales.
Despite all the recent moves and shake-ups in college football’s respective conferences, the ACC has only lost one school ever, when South Carolina left to be an independent back in 1971.
Will Maryland be the next, and will the Terrapins’ exit prove a domino effect that is felt throughout the nation?
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