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Maryland, Rutgers set to join Big Ten Conference

Updated: November 19, 2012 2:17PM



In another bold and shocking move, the Big Ten is expanding to 14 teams. Maryland announced Monday that it will join the league Monday, and Rutgers is expected to follow on Tuesday.

Reports of the development first surfaced at ESPN.com on Saturday. As recently as late October, Big Ten officials said they were content with a 12-team conference.

Notre Dame’s switch from the Big East to the ACC in all sports except football did not force a move, they said. But that apparently was not the case. With Notre Dame and the ACC planning for the future, Big Ten officials decided expansion was appropriate.

When the Big Ten added Nebraska for the start of the 2011 season, it created a lucrative conference-championship football game, reportedly worth $24 million a year,

Maryland and Rutgers are expected to begin competing in the Big Ten in 2014-15.

Illinois reportedly will move to the Legends Divison (Northwestern, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska) so that Maryland and Rutgers can join the Leaders Division together.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is scheduled to join Maryland officials to announce the expansion this afternoon.

By adding East Coast schools, the Big Ten will increase its television profile and increase the value of its Big Ten Network.

This is the trend in college sports, which appears to be moving toward a small number of super-conferences that will command immense television-revenue potential. The Pac-12, which recently debuted its television network, the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference are expected to emerge as the other super-conferences, with 16-school memberships the ultimate target.

For Maryland, it is a much-needed financial boon.

``I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics,’’ university President Wallace Loh told Maryland’s student newspaper, The Diamondback. ``No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk.’’

Maryland, which recently eliminated seven sports because of a budget crunch, will be joining a conference in which each school reportedly received more than $24 million a year, bolstered by the highest television revenue in college sports.

The ACC passed a rule increasing its exit fee to $50 million earlier this year. But Maryland, which voted against the measure, might be able to negotiate a reduced amount, Big Ten sources said, because no documents were signed.

However, an ACC official told USA Today the league’s legal counsel has determined that the exit fee is binding.

``There are no loopholes,’’ the official said.



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