Conference realignment

Maryland to leave Atlantic Coast Conference for Big Ten in 2014

The University of Maryland will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten on July 1, 2014, the school and conference announced on Monday.

Maryland’s announced departure will end a nearly six-decade era in the ACC for the school.

“Today is a watershed moment for the University of Maryland,” UMD President Wallace D. Loh said in a news release. “Membership in the Big Ten Conference is in the strategic interest of the University of Maryland.”

UMD submitted a written application to the Big Ten Conference on Monday, according to a Maryland athletic department news release. The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors met via conference call and approved Maryland’s application.

Maryland was one of the ACC’s charter members, helping start the conference in 1953.

The move comes despite multiple teams set to join the ACC. Syracuse and Pittsburgh will join the conference for all sports beginning with the 2013-14 academic year, and Notre Dame announced in September it plans to join the ACC in all sports except football.

Rutgers is expected to announce a move from the Big East to the Big Ten on Tuesday, ESPN.com reported Monday. With Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten would have 14 teams.

Maryland has gone through financial struggles in the athletic department recently, eliminating seven sports programs in July. The move to the Big Ten is expected to increase the university’s revenue through athletics in the long term. In the short term, Maryland must pay a $50 million exit fee to the ACC to move to the Big Ten. The conference voted to increase its exit fee after Notre Dame announced it would join.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford released a statement Monday after Maryland’s announcement.

“Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland,” Swofford said. “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.”

Maryland is in the Atlantic Division of the ACC, the division Syracuse will join next year.

Maryland’s men’s basketball program won the national championship in 2002, but the team has missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons. The Terrapins will leave behind a storied rivalry with Duke when they move to the Big Ten.

The football program, coached by former Syracuse assistant coach Randy Edsall, last reached a bowl in 2010.

Some of Maryland’s largest successes in recent years have come from the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs. The Terrapins’ men’s team reached the national title game each of the last two seasons, losing to Loyola (Md.) and Virginia. The women’s team has reached the final four in four consecutive years, winning the national title in 2010.

Maryland is leaving a lacrosse-rich ACC for a conference without a lacrosse component.

A spokesman in the athletic department said no decision has been made about the lacrosse programs’ plans.

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