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Maryland, Rutgers to expand conference to 14 schools

Big Ten getting bigger

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 12:21 a.m.áCST
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(AP)
Despite a tradition-rich history in the ACC, Maryland announced Monday that it will join the Big Ten starting in July 2014. Rutgers is expected to follow suit today.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Choosing to look toward the future rather than honor the past, Maryland joined theáBigáTenáon Monday, bolting from the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move driven by the school's budget woes.

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 BigáTen.

"By being a member of theáBigáTenáConference, we are able to ensure financial stability for Maryland athletics for decades to come," Loh said, speaking at a news conference witháBigáTenáCommissioner Jim Delany and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson.

Loh and other school officials involved in the decision decided that the potential money to be made in the BigáTenáwas 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."

Maryland eliminated seven sports programs earlier this year, and Loh said the shift to theáBigáTenácould provide enough of a windfall to restore some of those sports.

Delany said Maryland's entry was approved unanimously by the conference's 12 presidents.

"Quite honestly, they were giddy," Delany said. "Maybe some people Fear the Turtle. We embrace the Turtle."

Maryland will become the southernmost member of theáBigáTenámember starting, in July 2014. Rutgers is expected to follow suit by today, splitting from theáBigáEast and making it an even 14 schools in theáBigáTen, though Delany would not confirm that.

But he had no problem explaining why theáBigáTenáwould be interested in stretching its boundaries from the Midwest.

"We realize that all of the major conferences are slightly outside of their footprint," Delany said. "We believe that the association is one that will benefit both of us."

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