Current Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2013 15:03:11 -0500
The University of Maryland accepted an invite to the Big Ten Conference Monday to ease its financial concerns — but the move has also raised more questions about the school’s motivations.
The university system’s Board of Regents passed the proposal at a morning meeting.
“Today marks a new day in the chapter of the University of Maryland,” President Wallace Loh said in a press conference following the decision.
James Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, said the conference is ready to begin its partnership with the university.
“I hope that over time we can embrace you, that you can learn to be our partner and that together we’ll become much better than we are without each other,” he said.
The University of Maryland was a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953.
Loh released a statement saying the move will ensure the university’s financial vitality and allow it to bring back previously cut athletic programs.
The Big Ten Conference shares television revenue among its schools, which are associated with the Big Ten Network and other major networks.
The conference distributed $284 million to its 12 schools at the end of the last fiscal year, according to ESPN.
The university’s Student Government Association expressed its support for the move in a letter to the Maryland university system.
“In the aftermath of seven athletic teams being cut due to budget constraints, moving to the Big Ten may provide the University with the opportunity to bring these teams back.”
The transition to the Big Ten comes with a large price tag. The ACC instituted an exit fee of more than $50 million in September, which could nix future monetary gains from the school’s switch.
Others have criticized Maryland for what they say is a financially-driven decision.
Coyte Cooper, a UNC professor of sport administration who has worked with the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, was surprised by the move.
“The ACC is such a strong academic conference, and they sponsor a lot of sports. It has to be some sort of a money grab,” he said.
Hodding Carter, a professor of public policy at UNC, likened the action to that of a merger where smaller schools join larger conferences in hope of securing the increased television revenue.
Carter posed the possibility that other traditional ACC schools such as UNC and Duke could be persuaded to leave the ACC due to recent budget cuts.
“I would hope that there are places that have some sense of history, commitment and real dedication to the academic side of the enterprise as well as the financial side,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s really and truly about money above all else. With Maryland pulling out, is there anybody that can’t be bought out if the money is big enough?”
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