There are a few things that students already know for sure: Starting in 2014, the Terps will no longer regularly play their favorite basketball rival, Duke, a matchup that once inspired students to riot on Route 1. They will have to learn a new slate of teams, along with their reputations, mascots and colors. And they will have to drive farther to attend away games.
Then there are the things that have been promised to them: More football games will be nationally televised, and the higher-profile conference could attract more fans to the university’s currently poorly attended games. Being in the Big Ten also likely will lead to new academic partnerships. And the deal could bring more money to the school’s struggling athletic department, which Maryland officials hope will allow them to reinstate some of the seven sports they cut earlier this year and better support other programs.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re in survival mode trying to maintain a certain level of success where it felt like a full-time fundraiser at times, and it starts to wear you out,” said Sasho Cirovski, the men’s soccer coach who has been at the university for two decades. “Now with additional resources, we can hopefully increase the quality of the student-athlete experience and provide much-needed help in areas.”
But there are a lot of unknowns about bidding farewell to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a league that Maryland helped charter in 1953, a partnership that existed for three times longer than most of the school’s current students have been alive.
The result: Lots of confusion and frustration.
“My parents went here and now I go here, and it has always been the ACC,” said Erin Rhode, 21, a senior civil engineering major who was wearing a Ravens jersey. “All of those rivals that we have had and those teams we have played are gone. And now we are going to play a bunch of teams in the Midwest.”
And then Rhode posed this tough question: “Why are we going to leave the ACC, where we can barely beat anyone, and go to the Big Ten, where the teams are even better?”
Throughout the weekend and on Monday, Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with angry rants — along with some jabs at the Midwesterness of the Big Ten.
“No one is going to want to come see the University of Minnesota play,” said Ryan Largent, 21, a senior government and politics major who is in the marching band.
But a lot of students, while lamenting changing a tradition, concluded that maybe it won’t be so bad. The student government’s top leaders released a letter early Monday morning supporting the university’s application for the Big Ten.