Reaction to Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten
A smart business move that might benefit Maryland, student athletes and the fan base in the long run. But for now, it just leaves the fans irritated.
It’s official. The Maryland Terrapins, a charter member of the ACC since 1953, will leave the conference and join the Big Ten Conference in 2014. The Big Ten will feature 14 teams, including Rutgers. Go figure. I guess “The Big 14″ doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. University President Wallace D. Loh had this to say.
“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. 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.”
So let me get this straight. The exit fee for a school to leave the ACC is $50 million. That’s a fact. Maryland, the same school who about five months ago, canceled nine sports programs because “they couldn’t afford to carry them any longer,” has $50 million dollars to spare to cover this fee? This is also a fact. July 1st, 2012, Maryland ceased operating the following programs: Men’s indoor track and field, men’s tennis, men’s cross-country, men’s swimming, men’s diving, women’s swimming, women’s diving, water polo, and acrobatics/tumbling. It is a giant slap in the face to all of the student athletes, even acrobatic tumblers, who chose scholarships to the University of Maryland. They chose to come here for the education and the competition. They now are taking out student loans and paying for their education, or underclassmen are transferring to other schools where they can continue to compete. Only after sitting out a year though. At least that’s the rule for football and basketball, I’m sure it applies to all athletics. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take nearly $50 million to keep water in a pool, or enough tennis balls on hand, or gym mats up to par.
Under Armour CEO and Maryland grad, Kevin Plank, who has given the most money back to his school, does not endorse the move from the ACC to the Big Ten, and also will not aid in funding any part of the $50 million exit fee owed to the ACC. What does that tell you?
Unfortunately, decisions like this are driven by one thing. Football. Football generates the revenue that keeps the other sports alive because frankly, no one is going to watch acrobatic tumblers. Not sure if you have looked around Byrd Stadium lately, but there isn’t much revenue coming through he turnstiles. There isn’t a 24-hour television station devoted to the ACC either, like the Big Ten Network for example. Also speaking of football, no one is turning out or tuning in to see Wake Forest, Boston College, North Carolina State. Even this past Senior Day against a top ten program in Florida State, there were plenty of empty seats. Even in the student section. That will change when potential national title contenders like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State come to town. Those Big Ten schools have a larger football following and will help fill the stadium. Also, more television exposure for Maryland.
If the school uses this new-found income to restart the programs it cancelled, than that is one way to get some alumni and students back on its good graces.
From a basketball standpoint, the argument I hear in favor of this move is that Maryland can flourish in the Big Ten. Tradition isn’t strong enough to keep us in the ACC because our rivals, Duke and North Carolina, don’t look at Maryland as a rival. They say that until we beat them. By that logic, these people would be ok if the Orioles joined the National League, because the Yankees and Red Sox are our rival, but we’re not theirs. For me, I hate the move because I love hating Duke. Plain and simple. Duke and UNC might not be our rivals, but neither are Indiana and Purdue, so you’re not solving anything. A rivalry will have to be built, and something like that takes a long, long time. The ACC is about to become the premier conference in basketball with the addition of Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame. Three of the greatest coaches and programs of all time. Coach Turgeon and his staff are putting together quite a team to compete with the talent the ACC requires to compete. Now we won’t even be there. I’ll never get excited for a game against Minnesota, or Iowa, or Northwestern, like I do for the games in the ACC.
Maybe we still see Duke in the ACC/Big Ten challenge every now and then…and beat them.
At the end of the day, football becomes more interesting in College Park, and that’s a good thing. I just wish the Basketball program didn’t have to suffer from it. Maryland football road games give you extra incentive to go to places like ”The Big House” in Ann Arbor, Michigan, or “The Horseshoe” in Columbus, Ohio, and cross those places off of your stadiums you must see bucket list.
Otherwise, I hate this move. It will never be the same.