The University of Maryland will announce this afternoon that it has joined the Big Ten. A 3 p.m. press conference at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union will include school president Wallace Loh, chancellor Brit Kirwan, athletic director Kevin Anderson, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
According to multiple reports, Rutgers of the Big East will also join the Big Ten, increasing the league’s membership to 14 teams.
Maryland leaves the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which it was a founding member. Since it was established in 1953, the ACC has been one of the most stable leagues in college sports. Maryland will become just the second team to depart. South Carolina left in 1971 and later joined the Southeastern Conference.
The Maryland move comes two months after the ACC appeared to have solidified its membership with the announcement that Notre Dame had accepted an invitation, joining incoming Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which arrive from the Big East on July 1, 2013. After the Notre Dame move, ACC schools voted to increase the league’s exit fee from $20 million to $50 million. The lone dissenting votes came from Maryland and Florida State.
It is uncertain how Maryland will address the exit fee, which went into immediate effect in September. Other schools leaving conferences in recent years have negotiated reduced settlements.
The inclusion of Maryland and Rutgers allows the Big Ten to tap into the lucrative television markets of New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. The league’s expansion strategy began in 1990 when previously independent Penn State joined, bringing a national following and valuable TV markets Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In 2010, Nebraska accepted an invitation, becoming the 12th team in the league, allowing it to establish a lucrative conference championship game. The Big Ten is the only conference in college sports with its own television network, which launched in 2007.
Maryland’s move will help the school dig out of financial straits. Earlier this year, Maryland dropped seven sports in response to a projected athletic department deficit of $8.7 million in 2013. ACC schools currently receive roughly $17 million in television rights fees. Big Ten schools receive approximately $24 million in television money.
With negotiations coming for a deal that would begin in 2017, the inclusion of Maryland and Rutgers will only enhance the negotiating power of Delany and the Big Ten.