Big Ten fulfilling East Coast plan with Maryland, Rutgers

A stronger play on the East Coast was long overdue for the Big Ten, commissioner Jim Delany said Monday as Maryland was announced as the conference's 13th member.

Rutgers is scheduled to join Maryland on Tuesday. Perhaps more moves are coming.

The Big Ten is opening an East Coast office and plans to erect billboards, organize alumni events -- do anything it can to enhance its presence in what's widely considered a pro market.

“It was a mistake not to do it [earlier],” Delany said. “We, and others, have not taken advantage of the opportunities … I see it as a long-term play for Maryland. It’s not 50 years; it’s not five months, either. We’ll build this together.”

But make no mistake, this move was also driven by the college football landscape. Delany’s reference Monday to “other conferences coming out of their natural regions” could be a nod to Notre Dame’s move to the ACC despite its Midwest roots.

So when a cash-strapped Maryland submitted an application to the Big Ten, Delany pounced.

"We thought, given what's gone on around the country, this was a natural response,” Delany said.

Conference realignment is about television profits, no matter how much chancellors and athletics directors sell the academic side.

But at least the Terrapins have a sincere reason to join the Big Ten and gain access to the conference's treasure chest.

President Wallace Loh stressed the pain he experienced over the summer, when the athletic department cut seven non-revenue varsity sports in June 2012 -- men’s and women’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, acrobatics and tumbling (or competitive cheer) and two of the school’s men’s track programs.

“We’re still living paycheck to paycheck,” Loh said.

As for hard feelings in the ACC, which is looking to replace Maryland, Loh said the conference will “be a part, always, of the Terrapins story.”

Athletic director Kevin Anderson wonders whether he and ACC commissioner John Swofford will remain friends.

“I believe there would be some awkwardness,” Anderson said.

Delany maintains the league has been cautious over the years about poaching other conferences’ teams but added: “Institutions pursue their own destiny.”

No comment speaks more clearly to the potential ripples ahead in college athletics.

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