According to sources who are familiar with the situation, the University of Maryland, College Park and Rutgers University are in talks to join the Big Ten Conference. At the University of Maryland, a decision to change conferences may be made within the next few days.
For the conference, adding Maryland and Rutgers would extend the conference’s reach out east to the Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York City metro areas. From Maryland’s and Rutgers’ perspectives, joining the Big Ten can also earn them more revenue dollars from TV contracts and the Big Ten Network than their current situations in the ACC and Big East respectively.
Additionally for Rutgers, moving to the Big Ten Conference would give the Scarlet Knights an easier route to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) should the football team win the conference, and this will improve recruiting. The Big East will lose its automatic bid to a BCS bowl effective in 2014 when a four team playoff will be created to decide a national champion in Division I Bowl Subdivision Football.
At Maryland, while there may be nice financial windfalls, there is apparently some resistance to such a move. Most of the University’s rival schools are already ACC members, like Virginia and Duke. Former Terps basketball player and current ESPN analyst Len Elmore stated that “Anything that’s driven solely by dollars [will] turn out badly” in an interview with the Washington Post.
In addition, the ACC raised its exit fee to $50 million each after the University of Notre Dame was admitted as a non-football member. Maryland recently faced financial issues with its athletics department and cut some Olympic sports as a result, so it remains to be seen how the University can pay such a high fee should it join the Big Ten.
As the women’s basketball blog for SB Nation, the addition of Maryland’s and Rutgers’ women’s basketball programs will increase the Big Ten’s strength there. Both programs have been consistently ranked in the Top 25 over the past ten years, made deep NCAA tournament runs, and Maryland won a national championship in 2006. The Big Ten has not won a national championship since 1999 when Purdue won against Duke, and has not appeared in the national championship game since 2005 when Michigan State faced Baylor.
Stay tuned as we see what comes about with another possible move in major college conference alignments.