Maryland Ditches ACC For Big Ten; Rutgers Expected To Follow Suit
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s not BCS chaos, but conference realignment chaos has erupted again in 2012 with the University of Maryland firing the first shot. Monday, Maryland’s Board of Regents approved an eventual move to the Big Ten Conference.
The date of the move has yet to be determined, but Maryland’s move is not going to come cheaply. The Atlantic Coast Conference, passed rules last year that upped the exit fee of a school wanting to leave the conference to $50 million.
Maryland and Florida State both voted against increasing the exit fee to $50 million.
Still, Maryland sees the move to the Big Ten as worth it in the long run, even though the school recently cut several programs due to lack of funding. What is appealing about moving to the Big Ten is the tens of millions of dollars from the Big Ten Network and other television deals.
But, the move to the Big Ten by the Terrapins is expected to be followed by Rutgers University moving to the Big Ten as well. The reasoning behind both of the moves, as well as most of the other conference realignments, is television reach.
By adding Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten could reach millions of more people on the East Coast, though East Coast viewers have usually not been as dedicated viewers of college football as other parts of the country.
The move could have major impacts past Rutgers and Maryland.
Most likely, the Atlantic Coast Conference will turn towards the University of Connecticut as a possible replacement for Maryland. UConn wanted to join the ACC in the last round of conference realignment, but never received an invite.
That would leave the Big East will be down two schools again and fighting to stay relevant. The Big East could target BYU for a possible expansion to add on the West Coast, but will still need at least one new member.
Plus, Louisville has been flirting with the Big XII for months now and wants out of the Big East if it can find a partner. Louisville could also consider the ACC if the Big XII decides against expanding the conference.
Then there’s Florida State.
The Seminoles had a very public courting with the Big XII last year and if Maryland, which is cash-strapped, can afford the $50 million exit fee, then what’s to stop FSU? The Noles could pack up and leave the ACC for the Big XII if the conference chose to expand.
For the Big XII, getting access to Florida would be one of the biggest coups for a conference that was left for dead not two years ago during the initial rounds of conference realignment.
The Southeastern Conference, never one to let an arms race get out of hand could decide to go the super conference route and add two more teams to have 16 teams.
If you’re sick of conference realignment, look out, you could need a lot of Tums by the time the latest round finishes.