The University of Maryland Board of Regents voted unanimously this morning to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten, according to an ESPN report. The Terps become the first team to depart the ACC since South Carolina in 1971. Maryland was an ACC founding member in 1953.
At first glance, it appears Maryland is making the move in hopes that membership in the Big Ten will increase athletic department revenue. The Maryland athletic department recently cut seven sports in an attempt to address a major shortfall in the athletic budget. The Big Ten's TV deal is more lucrative than the ACC's: the conference distributed $284 million to its schools last year, according to the Washington Post. Much of that value comes from the Big Ten Network, a channel that will add further reach as it enters the DC-Baltimore markets.
In September, the ACC announced that exiting teams would have to pay a $50 million exit fee. It's unclear how that fee will be negotiated for the Terrapins at this point. It's also unclear what impact Maryland's departure will have on the future of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The league can survive without Maryland and can likely find a replacement school. It's possible, however, that Maryland's departure sets a precedent that other schools could follow later.