The conference landscape in college sports continues to shift with the biggest two defections of the year announced this morning.
According to ESPN, University of Maryland’s Board Of Regents accepted an invitation Monday to join the Big 10 Conference beginning in the 2014-15 school year, effectively leaving the Altantic Coast Conference. Rutgers is expected to follow suit, leaving the Big East and becoming the Big 10’s 14th member on Tuesday.
The move makes sense for Rutgers, which is locked into a conference in constant transition since conference realignment began.
Next year, the Big East will no longer have any geographic stability next season when Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and Central Florida join the fray. The Scarlet Knights would be forced to play three of those teams (excluding Central Florida, who they would play every season) putting a strain on their travel budget, while seeing a downgrade in competition in most sports.
A Big East television contract has yet to be decided.
A move to the Big 10, places RU’s burgeoning football program into the mix with some of the most historic programs in college football. Rutgers will be required to pay a $5 million exit fee and provide the conference with 27 months notice.
Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia all opted to leave the conference in the last two years.
On the other hand, Maryland’s move was a bit more perplexing.
The ACC is headed in the right direction, picking up Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the last year, and gaining Notre Dame (in every sport but football), one of the nation’s flagship programs in the last year.
Competitively, the ACC and Big 10 conferences are virtually on par in football, with two teams a piece in the BCS Top 25. In other sports, like men’s lacrosse, baseball and basketball the edge could go to the ACC when those other three teams join.
And Maryland would be forced to pay a hefty $50 million exit fee to leave the conference.
But then again, Maryland and Rutgers’ decision is easier than competitive balance or geography. It’s the money.
The ACC just agreed on a $3.6 billion TV deal over 15 years, which equates to $17.4 million to each school every season. The Big 10’s TV deal, which is set to expire in 2017, earns each university roughly $24.6 million per year, and adding Maryland and Rutgers could add value.
That explains it. Over time, both schools pockets are going to fill exponentially in the Big 10 compared to their deals with their current contracts.
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