Terps Join Big Ten

UMD becomes 13th school in the Big Ten. Pres. Loh believes switch will help University as a whole.

After a couple weeks of negotiation, the University of Maryland announced earlier today that they have agreed to leave the ACC to join the Big Ten Conference. Athletic competition in the new conference is expected to commence in the 2014-15 academic year after Maryland officially joins on July 1, 2014.

“This is a watershed moment for the University of Maryland,” said President Wallace Loh at an on-campus press conference. “By [becoming] a member of the Big Ten Conference, we will be able to ensure the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for decades to come.”

This conference shift not only focuses on the future of athletics but on the academic enterprise at Maryland. By joining the Big Ten, Maryland will become part of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), an academic consortium whose mission is to advance academic excellence across constituent universities in the conference.

“We believe that the association is one that will benefit both of us,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney. “If it doesn't benefit both of us, then it's not a good relationship. That's what partnerships are.”

Delaney discussed how excited the Big Ten was to receive Maryland's application earlier in the day. There was a unanimous decision by the twelve conference presidents to accept the Terps shortly after.

“Maybe some people fear the turtle. We embrace the turtle,” he said.

The Terps have a storied past as a member of the ACC, centered on fierce rivalries with schools like Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke. President Loh, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, and the Board of Regents decided to look past 59 years of tradition and instead focus on the future.

“We will always cherish the rivalries, the memories, and the traditions of the ACC because they will be part, always, of the Terrapin story,” Loh said. As the second-year president made clear though, “My obligation as president is not to any conference. It is to the best interest of the University of Maryland over the long haul.”

Perhaps the biggest setback in the conference switch was thought to be the ACC's $50 million exit fee. After all, last year, the University of Maryland cut eight varsity sports teams when the athletic department's budget deficit reached $4.7 million.

Neither President Loh nor Kevin Anderson made clear whether or not the university will legally challenge the exit sum. However, they remain confident that the conference switch will provide the necessary funds to not only pay the fee but also to prevent desperate measures like the ones they were forced to make last year.

“For me, the most important thing today is that no future Maryland athletic director will ever have to look young men and young women in the eyes and say that [they] can't compete here anymore because we can't afford to support [their] teams financially,” said Anderson.

In fact, Loh says that he and Anderson will begin the process to reinstate some of the teams they had to get rid of.

The panelists at the press conference acknowledged the ambivalence some people are feeling about leaving the ACC, especially from students, fans, and alumni. President Loh concluded by reading an email he received at 3:20 a.m. Monday from the Executive Board of the Student Government Association. He feels their words express in a nutshell what he wishes to articulate.

“Although we mourn the traditions that will inevitably be lost, joining the Big Ten would fundamentally transform our university for the better.”

Here's hoping these words resonate truthful.

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