Here's five things to know as the University of Maryland announces that it will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten, a move which approved by the institution’s Regents and Big Ten campus leaders today:
1. Potential television revenue for the Big Ten and debt issues at Maryland are driving this decision.
The move gives the Big Ten a foothold in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore television markets, something which will drive revenue.
If the possibility of adding Rutgers to the conference becomes reality, something which could occur as early as Tuesday, the addition of those two Maryland-area markets as well as the New York market would expand the size of the Big Ten footprint by 10.6 million homes.
In a weekend report, SI.com estimated that could add between $100-200 million per year to the value of the Big Ten’s television contracts if the Big Ten Network can land spots on basic cable in those markets.
That revenue potential is appealing to Maryland, which recently cut seven sports and is counting on additional football and basketball revenue to dig its athletic department out of debt which won’t be retired until 2019 at the earliest.
A lack of interest in the Terrapins’ football program is among the problems. The school averaged just over 36,000 fans per game this season.
2. Maryland president Wallace D. Loh has a history with the Big Ten.
He arrived at the institution in 2010 after working as the provost and executive vice president at the University of Iowa.
3. As an institution, Maryland will be breaking decades of tradition with the move.
It is one of seven founding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, joining Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest when the league was formed in 1953.
Maryland was the only league school which opposed a $50 million buyout fee league members approved earlier this year for any conference school which wanted to leave.
As has been the case elsewhere, that buyout is likely subject to negotiation.
4. Basketball has been big at Maryland for decades, in part because of long-term rivalries with its ACC heavyweights.
The men’s program is now coached by Mark Turgeon, who replaced long-time coach Gary Williams one year ago following stays at Wichita State and Texas A&M, while the women’s program is headed by Cedar Rapids native and former Iowa State assistant Brenda Frese.
Frese has been at Maryland since 2002, and guided the Terrapins to the NCAA title in 2006.
5. Randy Edsall is in his second season as the head football coach at Maryland, replacing the fired Ralph Friedgen.
Edsall was the coach at Connecticut from 1999-2010, leading the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl in his final season after overseeing the program’s move from Division I-AA to I-A.
He has a 6-17 record in two seasons at College Park, 2-10 a year ago and 4-7 so far this season.