Move to Big Ten ends 60 years of tradition for Maryland, ACC

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

It was another jolt to the Maryland sports landscape and probably the most significant.

Monday's announcement that the school was leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference and joining the Big Ten completes a radical transformation of athletics in College Park.

Over the last three years, Maryland has changed its president and athletic director, seen iconic basketball coach Gary Williams retire and fired football coach Ralph Friedgen. Even with all the tumult, Monday's news was a stunner as the Terrapins departed from a league that they helped form in 1953.

"Maryland has always prided themselves so much on tradition," student Zay Lee said. "To give that all up, I don't know. I would have liked them to stay in the ACC. Tradition is one of the things that attracted me to this school."

There were rumors of Maryland being wooed by the Big Ten in 2010, but with the ACC recently bolstered by the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the league appeared ready to weather the changing college sports landscape.

Instead, Maryland will become the 13th member of the Big Ten. Rutgers is expected to announce Tuesday that it will leave the Big East to become the 14th member. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany refused to address the Rutgers situation on Monday.

Maryland's Board of Regents approved the move to the Big Ten on Monday morning, though board member Earl "Buddy" Hance said it wasn't unanimous.

"I don't believe it was a close vote," Hance said. "There was a lot to weigh with the tradition and the long-term impact on the school. It's not just the athletic program; it's the academic program that's impacted with the transition."

Reaction was mixed on campus. Several students said it was a jolt initially, but they didn't fault the school for reacting to dire financial straits.

"I think it will be a great move for building new rivalries. Unfortunately, a lot of the rivalries we have now are one-sided," said Daniel Kaufman, of Rockville.

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall said he was surprised but excited about the move to the Big Ten, which has a long history of football tradition.

"I'm all for it. We know we've got work to do," Edsall said. "These kids now will have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, which is the granddaddy of them all."

Basketball coach Mark Turgeon spoke for many of the coaches in attendance Monday.

"My first reaction was like every Maryland fan: Are you kidding me? What's going on here?" Turgeon said. "I think we had to do it. My last line in my interview to Kevin Anderson was, 'I'm not going to fundraise.' Well, that's all I've done is fundraise since I've been here. Hopefully, down the road those days are over."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner