When Mark Turgeon first interviewed with Kevin Anderson for the Maryland men’s basketball head coach’s job, the final thing he told the athletics director was that he would not be fundraising. He wanted to coach basketball, not lobby for money.
“Well,” Turgeon said Monday afternoon at the Stamp Student Union, facing a throng of cameras, “That’s all I’ve done since I’ve been here. Hopefully, down the road, those days are over.”
With Maryland’s Monday announcement that it will join the Big Ten Conference, ending 59 years with the Atlantic Coast Conference, Turgeon appears to be right. Maryland’s once-struggling athletics department is poised to receive a substantial financial boon from the Big Ten, including partial revenue from its lucrative Big Ten Television Network.
Reacting to the news after standing on a stage for nearly an hour behind Anderson, University President Wallace Loh, Chancellor Brit Kirwan and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, both Turgeon and football Coach Randy Edsall praised the move.
“I was really excited from the standpoint of what this does for the institution, first and foremost,” Edsall said. “That’s the number one thing. The professors, the non-student athletes benefit. It also benefits the athletic department, with the financial stability they were looking for. I’m just grateful that Kevin and President Loh and Chancellor Kiwan saw the benefits for everybody. I think it’s an outstanding decision for everybody.”
Both Edsall and Turgeon appeared to relish the challenge of officially switching conferences on July 1, 2014, which will leave behind rivalries against North Carolina, Duke and Virginia, among others, in favor of traditional football powerhouses like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, or legendary basketball programs like Michigan State and Indiana.
“It’s going to take time for all of us to digest it. But there’s no turning back now,” Turgeon said. “We’re going to be a Big Ten member. I’m going to miss the ACC and those games. We’ve got a couple more years to try to enjoy them.”
Said Edsall: “That excites me. I’m all for it. We’ve got work to do. I met with my team before I came up here. They’re excited about it. We still have another year in the ACC, and then we’ll move into the Big Ten. I’m excited. They’re excited. It gives you more opportunities. These kids now have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, which is the granddaddy of them all, and a chance to compete among the other institutions in the Big Ten.”
Some concern has been raised among fan and alumni regarding the move’s effect on future recruits, many of whom are localized to the D.C. area and might have reservations about playing in a conference that so frequently travels into the Midwest, or were looking at Maryland for the opportunity to compete in the ACC.
“Don’t know yet. Maryland’s a great job, a great spot, a great basketball program,” Turgeon said. “We have the same mission. That’s to be great. We’re on our way, and we don’t expect this to slow us down in any way.”
Edsall pointed to the widespread reach of the Big Ten Television Network, which will extend into the D.C. area with Maryland’s addition, as a potential benefit in recruiting.
“Now you’re going to be in 30 countries, all over the United States,” Edsall said. “It’s going to open up some new areas in recruiting. We’ve already talked about taking care of the home base, but now moving into Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, those areas. I think this exposure will aid us in recruiting and open up some areas we maybe couldn’t get into before.”