Reporting Mike Hellgren
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—A historic change for the University of Maryland will have a broad impact on athletics and academics. In a surprising move, Maryland joins the Big Ten, leaving decades of tradition in the ACC behind.
Mike Hellgren has more on what the change means for the university and its students.
The university president calls it a watershed moment. He says the university was in bad financial shape. The decision was about paying the bills. He also defended the secret negotiations for the deal, saying the top lawmakers and people at the top level of the university were also kept in the loop.
In the big business of college athletics, University of Maryland’s historic move to the Big Ten from the ACC comes down to money. With the athletic program bleeding cash, more lucrative contracts and broadcasted Terps games are expected to make the program solvent.
The school gets $17 million a year from the ACC. It will get about $25 million from the Big Ten.
“It guarantees our athletic department and our university financial stability,” said Kevin Anderson, University of Maryland athletic director.
“Somebody has to pay the bills,” said university president Wallace D. Loh. “What is at issue is the long-term viability of Maryland athletics as we know it.”
WJZ has learned that talks to join the Big Ten started in earnest only three weeks ago.
The Board of Regents’ vote behind closed doors with no public notice is drawing mixed reaction on campus.
“I think most of the issue here is the money, bringing money into the university,” one student said.
“This is a punch to the face for us, something that we’re going to have to deal with. But I’m not very happy with it,” another student said.
“Maybe some people fear the turtle. We embrace the turtle,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany.
But the move is going to cost the university in the short term. The ACC imposes a $50 million breakup fee, although it’s unclear how much of that fee the school–and by extension Maryland taxpayers—will have to pay.
“We’re still debating what that figure is and how we’re going to deal with it,” said Patricia Florestano, Board of Regents member.
The school hopes the Big Ten will bring more attendance to the games and also money. School officials say this major move was the only move that made financial sense.
“I came to the conclusion that this is the right thing to do,” Loh said.
The school says it will also reinstate some of the sports it cut because of financial difficulty and will provide more money for academic scholarships.
The move will take effect July, 1 2014.
There are also reports that Rutgers will leave the Big East to also join the Big Ten.