University of Maryland to leave ACC for Big Ten

The University of Maryland announced today that its sports program will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten. The move will take effect in 2014.

Maryland has been part of the ACC for nearly 60 years. However, it has sound reasons for wanting to join the Big Ten. First and foremost is money. Maryland athletics have been financially strapped to the point that earlier of this year it eliminated seven of its varsity teams. The Big Ten is much stronger financially than the ACC. However, Maryland must somehow deal with the hefty exit fee imposed by the ACC on departing members.

The Big Ten is also a better fit for Maryland. It is mostly populated by state universities comparable to Maryland in size and academic quality. The ACC doesn’t quite fit the same profile.

For traditionalist, though, the move is problematic. In particular, ACC basketball, which produced the Terps’ great rivalries with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia, holds a big place in the heart of Terps fans.

As a Maryland fan for 50 years, I would not favor leaving the ACC if it were still an 8 or 9 team league in which we played Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia at home every year. But the ACC has changed. This year, it consists of 12 teams. In two years, who knows? In any case, the old system in which Maryland played each team twice every year in basketball is long gone (but not forgotten).

I hope that Maryland will still be able to schedule Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia in basketball and Virginia in football. But if not, we’ll still play the likes of Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan in basketball and Ohio State, Nebraska, and Penn State in football (a bit daunting, that). New rivalries are certain to emerge.

In fact Penn State is a former rival. For decades, Maryland and Penn State played every year in football (maybe we can be a bit more successful this time around). The Nittany Lions are as much a natural rival for Maryland as the Cavaliers of UVa.

In any event, the college sports landscape is changing rapidly. The University of Maryland should be commended for adapting.

JOHN adds: Maryland a member of the Big Ten Fourteen? What’s next, Oregon joining the SEC? If the Big 14 is going to expand, they should at least try to bring in teams that the Gophers can beat. Like…hmmm…

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