First there was confusion and disappointment. Anger, even. And then, as time passed, Maryland men’s soccer coach Sasho Cirovski finally accepted the inevitable: his program, along with the others within the Terps athletics department, were leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference and moving to the Big Ten.
In his 20th year leading men’s soccer, Cirovski’s Terps advanced to their 11th straight Sweet 16 with an NCAA second-round win over Brown on Sunday.
“It’s important for fans to understand that while I love the ACC and they love the ACC, I love Maryland more,” Cirovski said. “And now they need to understand that they love Maryland more. They have to understand that we’re not changing families and we’re not getting divorced; it’s still about Maryland. We’re just moving from one house to another, and after the initial emotions, I think more people will begin to understand that.”
Reaction from alumni and student-athletes decrying the move have been swift, but Cirovski, who has led Maryland to NCAA titles in 2005 and 2008, said the additional resources coinciding with the move will hopefully “provide much-needed help in areas,” especially within non-revenue sports like soccer that have seen budget cutbacks and suffered as a result of the department’s financial struggles.
“For the better part of my 20 years at Maryland, we’ve had to be very successful with very little and it’s gotten worse every year,” Cirovski said. “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. Now with additional resources, we can hopefully increase the quality of the student-athlete experience and provide much-needed help in areas.
“Right now, ACC is the premiere soccer fertile ground for players, but the Big Ten has been strong, too. Hopefully, with us joining them in two years, it will get even stronger.”