Maryland And Rutgers Are Joining The Big Ten Because They Have To

As expected, the Big Ten will now be 14. Maryland and Rutgers have let it be known they plan to abandon the ACC and the Big East, respectively, beginning in 2014. The motivation for all involved is plain: The Big Ten gets more of an East Coast footprint, and one that kinda-sorta touches the D.C. and New York markets (though not really). And Maryland and Rutgers—whose athletic departments have been hemorrhaging money in recent years—get themselves additional financial security, the new tradition in college sports.

The ACC's exit fee is a whopping $50 million, but Maryland apparently believes it can negotiate (or sue) that figure down. Rutgers will have to cough up $10 million to leave the Big East, but it may wind up costing more than that to get around the league's 27-month departure window.

Why could those expenditures be worth it for athletic programs that just last year voted to cut eight varsity programs to remain solvent (Maryland) and lost $26.8 million (Rutgers)? Easy: The Big Ten promises a bigger annual payout (the league distributed $24 million to each member school last year), and its television contract expires in 2017. The ACC's deal, signed through 2027, already promises less money per school than long-term deals inked by the Big 12 and the Pac 12. And the Big East still can't find a suitor for a TV contract—even with a former TV executive now sitting in the captain's chair.

Maryland had been a charter member of the ACC, which formed in 1953. Rutgers's departure means that of the eight football schools that constituted the Big East in 2003, Temple's the last one left (though it was kicked out before coming back). And more movement is on the way: The ACC will likely want to fill Maryland's spot, which means Louisville, UConn, South Florida, and Cincinnati will now be adjusting their makeup and checking to see if they've got anything stuck in their teeth. A true traditional rivalry.