The University of Maryland was one of the charter members of the ACC, when back in 1953 eight schools came together to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.
While the actual school itself remains out on the East Coast, the Big Ten has just expanded its marketing reach from its Midwest enclave to the Atlantic ocean.
Maryland’s Board of Regents on Monday voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference and leave the Atlantic Coast Conference, sources told ESPN on Monday.
[Check out the earliest rumors of the move here]
Reports earlier in the week had also included a move by Rutgers to the Big Ten, should Maryland pull the trigger first. Now that the Terrapins have agreed and again, unanimously, to make the move, an announcement from the Scarlet Knights’ brass is expected to come down as early as Tuesday.
“The question is what’s the future” of the ACC, Maryland regent Patricia Florestano told ESPN.com on Monday. “We’ve got to look to the future.” Asked if the future of Maryland athletics is brighter in the Big Ten than in the ACC, Florestano said, “we perceived it that way.”
Before the announcement was made, the largest obstacle towards that brighter future had been perceived to be, of course, money.
Over the last few years the ACC had not lost anyone to the conference shuffling that had left conferences such as the Big East as shells of their former selves, but in anticipation of such volatility, the athletic directors of each of the ACC’s schools voted to increase the exit fee from $20 million all the way to $50 million.
The only two schools to vote against the raised ext fee, which went into full effect prior to the start of football season, were Florida State, and yes, Maryland.
The Board of Directors and those close to the situation believe the school will be able to negotiate a lower exit fee.
Rutgers, on the other hand, would only have to pay a $10 million exit fee if it were to provide the Big East with 27 months notice. The fee would be higher, of course, if the school were to cut ties earlier, but sources believe the fee would not even come close to approaching the $50 million Maryland is looking at.
As for the Big Ten, the nation’s richest conference just got richer.
Already flush with cash from its wildly successful Big Ten Network, the conference has now added the Washington DC television market and potentially the New York/New Jersey market with the addition of Rutgers. Combined with Penn State, the conference now has solidified its East Coast appeal without losing its identity by taking on some random school like San Diego State (Big East, we’re looking in your direction).
The Big Ten expands to 14 teams just in time to begin negotiations on a new TV deal, set to take effect in 2017.
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