Moving Out: Terps Moving To The Big Ten

Maryland Terps move to Big TenThe University of Maryland, College Park has been a part of the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) for 60 years and as of July 1st, 2014, that will be no more.  They will be moving to the Big Ten (B1G). That means no more rivalries with Duke or UNC, unhappy fans, and loads of criticism. However, it will bring the athletic program out of debt.

The ACC was founded in 1953 by Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest. Georgia Tech joined in 1979, Florida State joined in 1991, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, Boston College in 2005, and Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse joined just this year with Louisville set to join next year. With so many new members joining and set to join, why are the ‘Terps choosing now to jump ship?

Debt is the answer to that question. Maryland stated that in 2012, they operated with $21 million in debt, from what they called “past financial decisions” and that the ACC was withholding $15 million dollars in revenue from Maryland. In order to leave the ACC though, they will have to pay $52 million dollars in exit fees.  So, by my math, they are about $37 million dollar in debt.

Talk about ‘walking around’ money.

To keep the athletics afloat, Maryland has loaned their athletic program $20 million dollars. “That’s borrowed money,” Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told The Washington Post. “That’s not a gift to athletics. Unless we get [money] back from the ACC, athletics has to pay that back.”

In order to cut costs, Maryland has also cut seven sports: Men’s and women’s swimming; men’s tennis; women’s water polo; acrobatics and tumbling; and the school’s men’s cross-country and indoor track and field. The cuts are estimated to save the ‘Terps $17 million dollars by 2017.

The big reason why Maryland chose the Big Ten is the conference payouts. When Maryland joins the Big Ten for the 2014 season, they will immediately make $32 million in revenue, $12 million more than the ACC’s $20 million payout to their schools. The Big Ten’s payout to Maryland will increase to $33 million in 2015, $34.5 million in 2016, and then it will jump to $43 million in 2017 after the Big Ten renews their TV contract. Then the payout will increase to $44 million in 2018 and $45 million in 2019.

UMD already has plans for the revenue as well: 50% will be set aside into a reserve fund and the other 50% will be given to the school to repay their loan to the athletic department and cover other debts. Everything is great at a glance over: the school gets out of debt, the athletic program thrives, but what has everyone heated up and drawing the criticism?

The answer to that is rooted into all college sports around the country: tradition. “I think a lot of the criticism comes from fans who don’t want change and want to see the old rivalries,” said former UMD student Bret Woods. “You’re losing the history. They’ve been in the ACC for a long time now.”

In addition, the ‘Terps will not have a home basketball game this year against rivals Duke and UNC. Some fans believe the ACC is punishing the ‘Terps by allowing that to happen.

Still, many believe what Maryland is doing is wrong. “My initial thought, which I’m still thinking, was, ‘I don’t like it.’” Dr. Barry Bodt told exploreharford.com “I’m a traditionalist, and what Maryland is doing, in effect, is turning its back on six decades of ACC sports,” said Bodt, who graduated from UMD in 1980.

The crowd seems to be split somewhat, though, “Of course, money is a big factor in this decision, but I think in the long run you’re going to see an improvement in this,” Jack Scarbath, Maryland’s starting quarterback from the early 1950s, also told exploreharford.com, “If you evaluate what [UMD] will receive from [switching conferences], and the athletic closeness of some of the programs in the Big Ten, or we should call in the Big 27 now, it’s going to help the University.”

Personally, I can see both sides of the argument. One side doesn’t want to disrupt tradition and the other side wants the school to be financially stable and support more sports.

UMD also plans for a $50 to $80 million Football practice facility to be built in the future. UMD President William D. Loh plans on “…prioritizing the Big Ten revenues for things such as academic support, training, nutrition, sports medicine and bringing back some teams, rather than $70 or $80 million for an indoor facility.” So make of that what you will.

Financially, Maryland’s future does seem bright.  Whether it can start new traditions and compete in the Big Ten however, remains to be seen.

Cody Colston is an aspiring sports journalist that looks to offer what other sports writers can't. He's a born and bred Baltimore sports fan that also loves the Washington Capitals and Wizards. Some say he's a sports addict, but he would argue he's way more devoted than that.

2 Comments

  1. MGW

    September 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    My thoughts are – EFF the ACC!

    We (I can say WE as I went to U of M) have played third fiddle to Duke and Carolina for years with the ACC tourney always played at Tobacco Road and all the other ass kissing that was done for those two schools.

    It’s not to say that this will be better moving to the Big 10, but at least WE made the decision and WE made the bucks.

    So long ACC.

  2. Kevin

    September 23, 2013 at 12:55 am

    You did not do all your homework on this.

    #1 You are not counting the 30 million dollar in travel stipend Maryland gets from the Big Ten. Nebraska and Rutgers did not get this. This amounts to the $15 million in 2012 and the 15 million in 2013 that the ACC is witholding. Consider this, the ACC can withhold Maryland’s money because it has it. Coming after that extra 22 million from Maryland once it leaves the ACC is impossible unless done through the courts.

    #2 Maryland’s deal which is front loaded is far better than what Nebraska and Rutgers got. Maryland gets a full share faster.

    #3 In 2014 there will be more Big East teams in the ACC than ACC charter members. Maryland never voted to be in the Big East 2.0. Maryland has as much chance of getting a home game in the ACC/BIg Ten challenge with UNC and Duke than it did in new ACC.

    #4 The 80 million dollar facility will be done 100% by private donations headed by Kevin Plank and Barry Gosset. Please see President’s report.

    #5 In 1953 when Maryland left the southern conference, YES we did this before we were a football power and gave the ACC legitimacy by winning that national championship.

    So you can say you see both sides, but the ACC we joined in 1953, even the one we were in in which we won the 2002 bball national championship is long gone. So if we could stay in the conference as it was in 1953, 1985, or 2002 many of us would not have wanted to leave. However, the ACC started this by raiding Miami, VT and BC, they should not be so sore Maryland is leaving. They were forcing new partners on us like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Boston College. Then I think we can chose our own in the Big Ten for more money.