COLLEGE PARK, Md.--The University of Maryland Board of Regents voted Nov. 19 to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), an entity they helped create in 1953, and join the Big Ten athletic conference.
"There was certainly discussion about the tradition of the ACC. And the question is what's the future? And we've got to look to the future," said Patricia Florestano, a member of Maryland’s Board of Regents, as reported by USA Today.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford issued a statement to the media extending his best wishes to Maryland.
"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,” Swofford said. “For the past 60 years the Atlantic Coast Conference has exhibited leadership in academics and athletics. This is our foundation and we look forward to building on it as we move forward."
UMD President Wallace Loh told The Diamondback, the school newspaper, that the move to the Big Ten will secure its future financially.
"I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics," said Loh in The Diamondback. "No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk."
According to USA Today, the Big Ten has the most lucrative television coverage deal of any conference in the entire NCAA, netting $24 million annually. Being privileged to this will allow Maryland to generate millions more, something the athletics department graciously welcomes after suffering from several budget issues in recent years.
But before Maryland departs the ACC it will have to cough up a major exit fee, reportedly about $50 million.
“We're still debating what that figure is and how we're going to deal with it," Florestano told USA Today.
AFRO Sports Editor Perry Green contributed to this report.