COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Choosing to look toward the future rather than honor the past, Maryland joined the Big Ten on Monday, bolting from the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move driven by the school's budget woes.
Rutgers is expected to follow today.
Maryland was a charter member of the ACC, which was founded in 1953. Tradition and history, however, were not as important to school president Wallace D. Loh as the opportunity to be linked with the prosperous Big Ten.
"By being a member of the Big Ten Conference, we are able to ensure financially stability for Maryland athletics for decades to come," Loh said, speaking at a news conference with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson.
Maryland will become the southernmost member of the Big Ten, starting in July 2014. Rutgers is expected follow suit, splitting from the Big East and making it an even 14 schools in the Big Ten, though Delany would not confirm that. The Star-Ledger, ESPN and CBSSports.com all reported the move.
Maryland gives the Big Ten a presence in the major media market of Washington. D.C. Rutgers, in New Brunswick, N.J., and about 40 miles south of New York City, puts the Big Ten in the country's largest media market and most heavily populated area.
Delany said demographics were a huge part of this decision. The population is not growing as quickly in the Big Ten's current Midwestern footprint as it is in other areas of the country, and it has hampered the Big Ten's ability to recruit, especially in football, its signature sport. The Big Ten felt it needed to change that.
"We think demographics have fueled our growth the last 100 years," Delany told the AP in an interview before the news conference. "...What we're doing is not creating a new paradigm, we're responding to a new paradigm but for very kind of historic reasons. We understand that success requires a dynamic involvement with rich demographics."
Loh and other Maryland officials involved in the decision decided that the potential money to be made in the Big Ten was more significant than the $50 million exit fee and the tradition associated with belonging to the same conference for 59 years.
"I am very aware that for many of our Terps fans and alumni, their reaction is stunned and disappointed. But we will always cherish the memories, the rivalries, the tradition of the ACC," Loh said. "For those alumni and Terp fans, I will now say this: I made this decision as best as I could ... to do what is best for the University of Maryland for the long haul."
The Big Ten reportedly paid its members $24.6 million in shared television and media rights revenues this year.
"Somebody has to pay the bills," Loh said. "I want to leave a legacy for decade to come, long after I'm gone, that no president is going to wonder if Maryland athletics as we know it is going to survive."
The Big East's exit fee is $10 million, but the league also requires a 27-month notification period for departing members. That means Rutgers will not be able to join the Big Ten until 2015 without working out some kind of deal with the Big East.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all have negotiated early withdrawals from the Big East in the past year.
Delany said Maryland's entry was approved unanimously by the conference's 12 presidents.
"Quite honestly, they were giddy," Delany said.