|Multiple reports have indicated that Maryland and Rutgers could be on their way to the Big Ten. (US Presswire)|
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy first reported the news that Maryland was in "serious negotiations" to join the Big Ten. According to the report, Rutgers is in a similar situation and would also join the Big Ten if the negotiations are finalized. That news was then confirmed by Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde, who -- citing multiple sources -- said both schools are in "advanced discussions" to join the Big Ten.
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No date has reportedly been set for any announcement, but Alex Prewitt, the Maryland beat writer for the Washington Post, said one could come as early as next week. Maryland president Wallace Loh, who has reportedly been handling the negotiations with the Big Ten, and Chancellor Brit Kirwan will need to present a recommendation to the Board of Regents. The recommendation would then be put to vote before an official announcement is made. According to Prewitt, that part of the process may not take very long.
Maryland (ACC) and Rutgers (Big East) are charter members of their respective conferences, but some key players in Maryland's current leadership (Loh and athletic director Kevin Anderson) have no ties to the ACC.
With the Big Ten preparing to renegotiate their media rights deal in 2017, it is possible that the addition of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets provided motivation to court both schools. The promise of a bigger paycheck could be particularly enticing to Maryland, after recently being forced to drop seven sports due to financial woes.
Maryland was one of the two schools (along with Florida State) to vote against the recent increase of the ACC exit fees. Leaving the ACC now means that the school would need to pony up approximately $50 million to leave. Finding out where (or maybe we ask, "who") that money is going to come from may be one of final details in the negotiations.
Citing a source, CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler pointed out that the Big Ten could help Maryland with the hefty exit fee up front, then deduct the cost from the school's yearly media rights on the back end.
Rutgers would only need to play approximately $10 million to leave the Big East, but would need to negotiate out of the league-mandated 27-month exit period. Every one of the four teams that announced an exit from the Big East in the last two years -- Pittsburgh, Syracuse, TCU, and West Virginia -- have negotiated an early exit.
The move would likely jump-start another wave of conference realignment, with the ACC and Big East suddenly missing key pieces of the future. ACC commissioner John Swofford said the ACC had no plans to add another member that would create unbalanced divisions. Adding Notre Dame as a football independent kept the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions balanced, but the loss of Maryland leaves the ACC with a spot to fill. The loss of Rutgers could actually solve the Big East's numbers game for football -- the league is currently stuck at an odd number with Navy's future arrival, though their absence from all sports would be a blow to the identity of the conference.
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