Calling it a “watershed moment for the University of Maryland,” President Wallace Loh and colleagues officially announced the school’s decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference, moving to the Big Ten Conference in search of more fiscally beneficial pastures.
Receiving what one individual with knowledge of the situation called “a super financial deal for Maryland,” the university figures to receive a cut of the wildly profitable Big Ten Television Network, which Loh said would “guarantee the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for a long, long, long time.”
On July 2, the University of Maryland announced the discontinuation of seven varsity sports as it sought to offset a multimillion-dollar deficit within the athletic department. Now that the Big Ten council of presidents has formally accepted Maryland’s bid to join the conference, both Loh and athletics director Kevin Anderson have become “absolutely committed to begin the process, to reinstate some of the teams [Maryland] had to terminate.”
Men’s and women’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, acrobatics and tumbling, as well as men’s cross-country and men’s indoor track and field were all eliminated in July, after Loh accepted the recommendation of a 17-member panel last November to called for Maryland to cut eight programs. Men’s outdoor track & field was saved from the chopping block after a successful fundraising campaign, which is ongoing to ensure its permanent survival.
Thanks to the additional money expected to flow in from the Big Ten move, Loh and Anderson said they will reopen the 17-member panel, present the current financial data and reevaluate those programs’ respective futures.
“No future athletic director will have to look into young men and women’s eyes and say you can’t compete or wear the colors, because we can’t afford to support your teams financially,” Anderson said.
Said Loh: “When I came here two years ago, Kevin Anderson and I were faced unexpectedly with budget deficits. As a result, we had to do, as a result, the most painful thing we’ve ever had to do, which was to look student-athletes in the eye and tell them that no, we could no longer support your team, the sport you loved and which you came to Maryland to play. We vowed, this will never happen again. Not so long as we’re here.”
Anderson also addressed the impending situation concerning Maryland’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, which will leave behind perennial rivalries against North Carolina, Duke and Virginia, among others. The Big Ten conference, on the other hand, currently has just three schools – Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan – that offer varsity men’s lacrosse. Even with Rutgers rumored to announce a move to the Big Ten on Tuesday, that would give the conference just five programs. Six are needed for an NCAA automatic qualifier.
“The commissioner and I have already discussed this,” Anderson said. “We’re looking at several opportunities that we’ll put on the table for both our men and women. They’re both positive but we want to sit down and look at all the options before we commit. One thing that I did do, I discussed with both coaches that we do have several plans that we can put in place.”