Maryland Is Leaving the ACC

Rob Carr

Maryland, in a naked financial move, is taking its ball and heading to the B1G Conference.

Then again they are all naked financial moves at this point.

Charter ACC member Maryland has voted unanimously to leave the ACC for the Big Ten beginning in 2014 with an announcement forthcoming Monday afternoon. It is also expected the Big Ten will add Rutgers from the Big East to complete the move to 14 teams.

Maryland becomes the first ACC team to leave the league since 1971 when South Carolina departed for the SEC and also the league first loss during the realignment era. Until now, the ACC had been ahead of the curve poaching Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame(except for football) from the Big East. This move constitutes the first foray by another league into the ACC to poach a team.

What this ultimately means for all parties involved remains to be seen. Maryland has been, for a number of years, facing dire financial issues which led to seven sports being cut. This move to the Big Ten is one meant to ensure some measure of solvency for the athletic department. The Big Ten is clearly interested in the cable subscribers from the Washington, DC and New Jersey/New York area and how much money the Big Ten Network can fetch when those numbers are factored in.

As for the ACC, the danger here is the seal being broken and more specifically how the newly passed $50 million exit fee will be handled. The ACC instituted the new fee when it announced Notre Dame would join the league. At the time Maryland and Florida State voted against the measure. The fee was seen as a deterrent however these types of rules usually never get fully implemented. Either Maryland will go to the courts to have it struck down/reduced or some kind of amicable arrangement will be reached. Florida State and Clemson will be very interested to see how Maryland's exit will be handled. If the Terps establish tolerable financial path then FSU and Clemson could give leaving a hard look. At that point, all bets are off as the dominoes will likely fall in rapid succession.

For now, all eyes are on John Swofford to see what happens next. Does the ACC add UConn? Louisville? Is there another coup out there Swofford can pull off? With Notre Dame not joining the ACC in football, Maryland departure creates a division imbalance that must be rectified. That almost certainly means the ACC will add someone and that move along with the disposition of Maryland's exit could set additional defections in motion.

Whatever the case, you can bet a good number of ACC folks are hoping Larry Fedora paints 70+ points on Maryland this Saturday.

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