Maryland to join Big Ten as 13th member

University of Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson can expect a gift delivered to his office in the near future, courtesy of SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Athletic Director of the Year.

To welcome the Terrapins to the Big Ten Conference — a move that was unanimously approved by the Maryland Board of Regents and accepted by conference presidents Monday afternoon — MSU athletic director Mark Hollis had a baker’s dozen of roses delivered to Anderson’s office to signify Maryland’s addition as the conference’s 13th team.

“(I sent roses) to establish that tradition, to welcome them to a conference that strives to get to a Rose Bowl every year,” Hollis said. “And I think that’s (the) connection, that’s (the) welcoming that you have to extend.”

Maryland officially will join the Big Ten on July 1, 2014, leaving behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC, a conference the Terrapins helped found in 1953.

The university brings with it 20 varsity sports, after cutting seven varsity programs in July because of financial strains.

The move puts the Big Ten at 13 schools, and reports from ESPN indicate Rutgers University might follow suit to become the Big Ten’s 14th team with an announcement to be made as early as today.

Both Hollis and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany declined to comment on the reports that Rutgers might join the conference, with Delany reasserting, “Today is Maryland’s day.”

The Big Ten last expanded in 2010, when the conference welcomed Nebraska in a move that allowed for the creation of the Leaders and Legends divisions, and the Big Ten football championship game, which featured MSU and Wisconsin in its inaugural matchup last year.

According to ESPN, when Rutgers and Maryland join the Big Ten, both teams will be placed among the Leaders, with Illinois making the move to the Legends Division.

However, Hollis said those talks have yet to begin, and likely will take a lot of thought before a decision is made on placement.

“It may be a situation where we review the whole thing and spend hours and hours and hours again formulating what the best setup is,” he said. “Anytime something changes, you have to go back and evaluate.”

For Maryland, the process might end up costing a hefty fee.

The ACC has put an exit fee of $50 million in place, which the Terrapins could be subject to pay if they cannot negotiate a lower cost.

But for University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, the prospects of financial security promised by the Big Ten far outweigh the possible expenditures of leaving behind the conference it helped build.

“What the membership of the Big Ten does is to enable us to truly guarantee the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for a long, long time,” Loh said.

Competitively, the Spartans holds an edge over the Terrapins in both basketball and football, with the football team holding a 4-1 series lead and the basketball program boasting a 3-2 advantage.

While some question Maryland’s shift, Delany endorsed the move fully.

“Maybe some people fear the turtle,” he said. “We embrace the turtle.”

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