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Maryland to jump to Big Ten, leaving ACC behind

November 19, 2012|By Jeff Barker and Chris Korman

Maryland's application for admission to the Big Ten was approved Monday by the conference's Council of Presidents, making the university's move from the Atlantic Coast Conference official.

Maryland has scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. EST to discuss the decision, according to a university source.

Patricia Florestano, member of the university's Board of Regents, confirmed the board's vote to move to the Big Ten but rejected reports that it had been unanimous. She cited financial and academic considerations as reasons behind the decision.

"We've got to look to the future," she said when asked whether there had been strong sentiment against leaving the ACC.

She also said university officials did not yet know how much the fee to exit to ACC would be, or how it would be paid.

Though the proposal received broad support among the regents, not all favored it.

"I was against it,” said former Maryland basketball star Tom McMillen, a regent and former member of Congress. "I felt there was no time for an opposing view. I felt a decision like this should have been made with more consultation and deliberation.

"The decision was all about money no matter how you sugarcoat it. I wanted to hear from athletes. I wanted to hear from the ACC."

University officials had hoped to avoid a disagreement over whether the regents or Chancellor William E. (Brit) Kirwan had final authority to make the decision on applying to the Big Ten. They apparently got their wish with the regents’ strong endorsement.

Maryland's decision is driven largely by financial motives, with the Big Ten's dedicated broadcast network the primary reason that being a member of the conference is so lucrative. The network pays a reported $25 million to each team per year, and that number could rise significantly depending on how many cable and satellite companies choose to carry the network.

University officials have indicated that the costs of leaving the ACC -- including what is expected to be about a $51-million exit fee -- would be outweighed by the benefits of joining the Big Ten.

Schools are required to give an exit notice to the ACC by Aug. 15 and then wait about 10 months to leave. Given that and other considerations, it seems unlikely Maryland could start participating in the Big Ten until July 2014.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said of Maryland's departure: "Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland. Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit."

There are multiple reports that Rutgers would follow Maryland, giving the Big Ten 14 members.

Maryland has a long tradition with the ACC and is one of seven original conference members.

But the school -- which in recent years has favored ACC expansion -- has long hoped that the conference might improve its football profile. That, in turn, could have helped generate interest in Maryland's own football program, elevating recruiting and attendance.

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