The University of Maryland’s Board of Regents met this morning to discuss and vote on a potential move to the Big 10 that would send a ripple the world of college athletics. It has since been confirmed that vote has taken place and the Board of Regents have unanimously agreed to apply for membership to the Big 10 conference.
This story really picked up steam and went national Saturday afternoon but there have been rumblings throughout the fanbase for over a week now. As you could expect there has been a major divide between those who support the move and those who want to stay in the conference the Terps were a charter member of, the ACC.
As someone who is, for the most part, unaffiliated with the university (I attended the University of South Carolina for my undergrad) I thought I could provide an unbiased look at the pros of leaving the ACC for a new home in the Big 10.
1) Money, Money, Money….Money!
It is no secret that the University of Maryland’s athletic department has seen better days financially after having to cut a number of varsity sports earlier in the year. It is also no secret that the Big 10’s TV contract brings its member schools more money than the current ACC contract (An estimated $7 million more per year at $24 million compared to $17 million). They say money makes the world go round, and while that might not be totally true it certainly makes running an intercollegiate athletic department in a successful manner much more attainable
Another reason that has been much less publicized than I think it should is the fact that the Big 10 is partnered with the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) which brings in $8 billion dollars annually to its member institutions. This is something that the ACC does not participate in. Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen taught us that Money Talks and in this particular case for the University of Maryland I think it speaks the loudest.
2) The ACC isn’t what it used to be:
This might upset some people but it is the truth. At one point in time the Atlantic Coast Conference was without a doubt one of the nation’s juggernauts when it came to college athletics, especially basketball. However, as collegiate sports have become, essentially, a cash crop attention has shifted largely in the direction of the NCAA’s biggest moneymaker of all; football.
The ACC is a second tier football conference that potentially could be on the outside looking in as the conference realignment conversation is heating up once again. With the general consensus being that a move to four 16-team power conferences is happening sooner or later it begs the question of where the ACC fits into that debate? The SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big XII all garner much more respect on a national scale than the ACC does. A move to the Big 10 offers Maryland the type of security that quite frankly isn’t long term for the Terrapins in the ACC.
3) John Swofford:
To be frank, the commissioner of the ACC is one of the worst the NCAA has to offer in my opinion. I have long grown tired of seeing a strong North Carolina bias towards all member instutitions and it appears as if those within the administration and Board of Regents share those feelings. Maryland was a charter member of the ACC and, as I am sure many would agree, have been looked at as of late as one of the outsiders looking in being as outside of Boston College the Terps were the most northern school in the league. The ACC says they have a contingency plan and schools lining up to take Maryland’s place at the table, I’ll believe that when I see it as I am not sure what kind of a draw prospective schools like UCONN, Cincinatti or Louisville would have if invited.
Maryland’s athletic department is in shambles financially and yet they still took a look at a, supposed, $50 million dollar exit fee from the ACC and unanimously agreed that it was worth it to get away. Maryland now joins my alma mater, the University of South Carolina, as the only schools to ever elect to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. It may have taken a little while but it has worked out well for our Under Armour brethren in the SEC, I have little reason to believe things will be any different for the Terrapins as they make the move to the Big 10 with the financial backing we will see from the conference as well as the push we receive from Under Armour. See you when I see you John Swofford, you won’t be missed.
4) The ACC Already Ended The Duke Rivalry For Us:
This is going to be a point of contention for many who disagree with this decision by the university as the rivalry that had been forged with Duke over the years is one that is important to Terrapins fans. Unfortunately, this decision was made for us long before today. When the ACC took away the home and home games against Duke in basketball every year as a result of the additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the conference that rivalry ended as we all know it.
The ACC offered the University of Maryland absolutely zero long term security for their athletic department. Between the greater amount of money that will be brought in annually between the Big Ten bowl tie ins and TV contracts for both football and basketball along with these grants from being a part of the CIC Maryland’s financial future will be more stable than it has been at any time in recent memory while a member of the ACC. This move not only will help the longterm growth and stability of the athletic department but it will help the University of Maryland improve upon its already impressive academic reputation.
6) The Notre Dame Factor:
I was strongly opposed to the way John Swofford allowed Notre Dame to have a “sweetheart deal” with the ACC so that they could be a partial member while keeping their independance in football. Notre Dame’s football program on a year to year basis would rival what the entire ACC brings in for its member institutions, however with the deal in place none of the ACC schools would see a penny of Notre Dame’s football revenue. Those same ACC schools would, however, lose an out of conference game every two to three years so that they could play games against Notre Dame that would not count towards their league record despite the fact that the Irish are able to get in on the conference’s bowl bids. Apparently there were many within the university that shared these feelings towards the way the ACC chose to court Notre Dame.
There you have it, my look at this announcement to leave the ACC for the Big 10 through the eyes of an outsider. For those who put a lot of stock in tradition and things of that sort I can understand how this move will be upsetting for you but as a realist it is without a doubt the best decision for this university to make. Tradition doesn’t always agree with what is in your best interests at this point in time, this is the ultimate case of that. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, we’re about to find out how green that grass is in the Midwest. We already know what color the benjamins are, and they are plentiful.