The University of Maryland's Board of Regents voted to join the Big Ten Conference on Monday, leaving behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, a league it helped create in 1953.
Patricia Florestano, a member of the Board of Regents, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports the regents had voted to apply for admission for the University of Maryland into the Big Ten.
"There was certainly discussion about the tradition of the ACC. And the question is what's the future. And we've got to look to the future," Florestano said in Baltimore before a previously scheduled public meeting on education policy.
The Big Ten issued a news release that said Maryland would hold a news conference at 3 p.m. Eastern in College Park, Md., with university president Wallace Loh, chancellor Brit Kirwan, athletics director Kevin Anderson and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. The Big Ten has scheduled a national teleconference for 4 p.m. with Delany, Loh, Kirwan, Anderson and University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman.
"I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics," university President Wallace Loh told Maryland's student newspaper, The Diamondback. "No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk."
Maryland has been in a severe athletics budget crisis in recent years, going so far as to cut some of its intercollegiate programs. The Big Ten move is expected to generate several more millions a year, mainly through television rights. The Big Ten has the most lucrative television contract in college sports, with each member receiving more than $24 million a year, according to published reports, including by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
ACC commissioner John Swofford issued a statement Monday that read, "Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland. Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit. For the past 60 years the Atlantic Coast Conference has exhibited leadership in academics and athletics. This is our foundation and we look forward to building on it as we move forward."
Florestano said the vote earlier Monday was not unanimous but that she voted for the move to the Big Ten. "There was a long discussion," she said.
Is Maryland's future brighter in the Big Ten? "We perceive it that way," said Florestano.
The Board of Regents has 17 members. "We had a majority in the room,'' she said.
Rutgers is expected to follow Maryland to the Big Ten. It has a previously scheduled Board of Governors meeting Monday, but its president, Robert Barchi, and athletic director, Tim Pernetti, have the authority to accept an invitation from the Big Ten without the board's approval. An announcement on its move could come as early as Tuesday.
Maryland's football experience with Big Ten schools predominantly has come in 37 games with Penn State. The Terrapins have played 12 other games against Big Ten opponents, with a combined record of 4-44-1. Maryland never has played Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State or Wisconsin in football.
Maryland's move creates an opening, and perhaps some instability, in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After adding Notre Dame as a partial member (all sports but football and hockey) in September, ACC presidents voted to increase the league's exit fee to $50 million. Maryland and Florida State were the only schools to vote against it. An ACC official, who requested not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the situation, said the league's legal council has determined that the exit fee is binding. Maryland is expected to seek a reduction in the buyout.
"There are no loopholes," the official said.
Florestano was asked whether the possibility of a $50 million fee to exit the ACC gave her any pause.
"We're still debating what that figure is and how we're going to deal with it," she said.
The ACC could look to add UConn to fill Maryland's spot, but others in the league - especially Florida State and Clemson - will be watching closely to see how the exit fee is handled.