Maryland Leaves the ACC: Big 10 Buys the Terps

Reid Compton-US Presswire

There is nothing new in today’s world of College Football for teams to shift from one conference to the next…

It is the nature of today’s athletic model that is driven by football and the stream of unlimited amounts of cash.

But there was something different about the huge announcement hours ago that the Maryland Terrapins are leaving after 59 years in the ACC.

Yes, a founding member of the ACC is leaving all the history and tradition over the past 59 years for a new start as a member of the Big 10.

But the reasons are different from any other school that has jumped from one conference to another…

And it all has to do with money…

Yes, every move is motivated at the root by the almighty dollar and the opportunity to make more, but Maryland’s situation is different.

The Terps are in essence bankrupt…

And the Big 10 just bailed them out…

University President Wallace Loh announced last year that eight sports would be cut following the end of the 2011-12 academic year due to mounting financial woes in the Maryland Athletics Department.

The athletics deficit was expected to reach $4 million by 2012 and $17 million by 2017 unless action was taken.

Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, Men’s Cross Country, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Men’s tennis, Women’s Water Polo, and Competitive Cheer (aerobatics and tumbling) were all disbanded just a few months ago.

Men’s Track and Field were able to raise enough private funds to continue its program, but none of the others were.

This was an unprecedented event in major college athletics…

But after a year of discussion and in the span of a few hours today, the Big 10 has bought out Maryland…

Cancelling the Terps debt and giving it and all of its athletic programs new life.

“Today is a watershed moment for the University of Maryland,” Loh said. “Membership in the Big Ten Conference is in the strategic interest of the University of Maryland.”

The Terps reinstated all the sports it cancelled at the end of last season after this announcement…

“Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland. Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “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.”

Why couldn’t the ACC give Maryland the help and hope the Big 10 did…

“It’s pretty obvious to us that the paradigm has shifted, and it’s not your father’s Big Ten. It’s probably not your father’s ACC,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. “I think that what the paradigm shift is that other conferences had, we had chosen not to. We explored the collaboration (with the Pac-12). It couldn’t be executed. The Pac-12 couldn’t do what they thought they could do. And at that juncture, we thought we should seriously think about contiguous states, AAU (Association of American Universities, which concentrates on research) institutions and to determine whether or not that was plausible. We found out that it was, and we moved from there.”

What Delany did get today was a security blanket for what will be the Penn State Nittany Lions for the next 5-10 years following their sanctions.

Geographically, the Big 10 will be able to keep the far eastern part of its TV, fan base and the stream of athletes staying local all intact.

And as the Big 10 writes over the check bailing out Maryland a ton of questions are still left unanswered…

But it is still baffling how an ACC Founding Member like Maryland can be belly-up financially and why the ACC couldn’t help…

And it is even more interesting to see just how great of an investment the Big 10 made in taking on the debt of Maryland…

Time will only tell…

 

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M Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years of experience in broadcasting and journalism in professional baseball and college athletics and is the ACC Football Guru, SEC Voice of Reason and College Football Comedian for Rant Sports. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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