The Washington Post has confirmed that Maryland’s decision to join the Big Ten is final, and Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde is reporting that Rutgers is in deep negotiations to join the Big Ten Conference. These are two schools that have recently cut one, or both, of their swimming programs due to budget constraints.
Maryland will make their announcement official at a 3PM press conference on Monday, which can be watched online here.
The bill: $10 million for Rutgers from the Big East, and $50 million for Maryland, the latter of which a number the remaining ACC members voted on last season to prevent more schools from jumping ship.
Maryland, ironically, was one of two schools (along with Florida State) that votedagainstthe fee increase.
Considering that according to the Newark Star-Ledger, Rutgers’ Athletic Department lost $26.8 million in 2010-2011, and even worse that Maryland dropped a whopping 7 varsity squads last year to cover a $4 million deficit, and it will upset fans of both swimming programs to see such huge figures being tossed around.
Maryland, since deciding to drop their men’s and women’s swimming programs, along with women’s water polo and 4 other squads, at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, has been in a tailspin. In 2006, a $50.8 million expansion plan for their Byrd Football Stadium was put into place that initially brought the capacity up to 54,000 seats, and in the next phase is shooting for over 60,000 seats.
Considering that this past weekend, even against a major ranked opponent in Florida State, that decision seems silly, at best, and wreckless, at worst. The 63 luxury boxes that have been added along one side have been viewed by even the Maryland faithful as laughable.
For Rutgers, who would have to pay $20 million if they wanted to leave immediately, or $10 million if they waited 27 months (the former is more likely), the move makes more sense. The NCAA revealed last week that in the new college football playoff format, the Big East has essentially been downgraded to a peer with lower-budget conferences like the Mountain West, Conference USA, and the Sun Belt. It’s much more feasible that the Scarlet Knights will see enough of a financial impact from a new 14-team Big Ten to overcome the $20 million exit fee, even if not immediately.
For Maryland, however, there may be some arrangement with the Big Ten to offset some of the buyout costs, this seems like more of a parallel move. According to ESPN.com’s Krisi Dosh, the per-school average from TV rights deals under the ACC’s new agreement with the Worldwide Leader is $17.1 million, as compared to $20.7 million in the Big Ten. The decision was touted as one that would bring “financial stability” to the program.
Maryland would immediately be badly outnumbered in terms of varsity sports in the Big Ten (though, according to this, that may change). They would be the only member of the conference that doesn’t have a swim team of any sort, with only Illinois and Nebraska not having both men’s and women’s teams.
Considering the breadth of Big Ten events (Ohio State recognizes 37 varsity programs, more than double that of Maryland), these schools will both just not feel right fitting into the Big Ten. The decision has been made now, we just have to hope that somewhere down the road, Maryland is encouraged by their new conference mates to consider re-expanding their sport selections.