Maryland legend Len Elmore speaks out against potential Big Ten move

November 17, 2012

Former Maryland basketball great and current ESPN analyst Len Elmore spoke out against his alma mater’s discussions with the Big Ten conference, calling the school’s potential abandonment of the ACC “sad” and a “bad move.”

Multiple people with knowledge of the situation speculated that an announcement could come within days, though it would first have to be approved in a vote by the University Board of Regents. 

Despite being a charter member of the ACC, Maryland would likely see massive financial growth from moving to the Big Ten. This in particular irked Elmore. 

“Anything that’s driven solely by dollars, it’ll turn out badly,” Elmore said in a telephone interview. 

Elmore expressed concern that the decision was driven exclusively by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and university President Wallace Loh, neither of whom have “had any real affinity with Maryland pride.” Anderson became Maryland’s athletic director in 2010 after spending six years at Army, while Loh has Big Ten ties, having earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He also was provost at the University of Iowa before he was named Maryland’s president in 2010.

“This is not a decision solely to be made by the athletic director or the president,” Elmore said. “This thing is moving so quickly, I can’t see how they consulted members of the constituency.”

Casting Maryland as an “anxious buyer,” Elmore railed against what he viewed as a money-driven decision, an effort to curb the financial struggles the Maryland athletic department has endured in recent years. 

“The last thing we can have is a sense of buyer’s remorse,” Elmore said. “I can sympathize with them with regards to the deficit and some of the financial burdens, but you have to balance these issues with the understanding of affinities of the fan base. When it comes down to it, I think it’ll be a bad move and generate remorse.”

Elmore pointed to the traditions and rivalries established by the Terrapins’ nearly 60-year ACC history and wondered if the Big Ten offered a comparable basketball rivalry to Maryland-Duke or Maryland-North Carolina. “Maryland-Purdue? Maryland-Iowa?” Elmore said. 

“From a standpoint of tradition,” Elmore continued, “I didn’t think my alma mater would be looking for a money grab, one of the most pernicious things in all of college sports. … It’s nuts. They’re blinded by the dollars.”

Elmore anticipated similar backlash among fellow Maryland alumni. “If you examine going forward, the loss of an entertainment value, the loss of the ACC tournament?” Elmore said. “The loss of some of the greatest rivalries in college sports? It’s disappointing to not see beyond the dollars.

“In some ways, I could see where the temptation would be to follow this thing through. But when you step back, you run the risk of losing support from people who don’t see it the same way.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | November 17, 2012