The University of Maryland accepted an invitation Monday to become the 13th member of the Big Ten Conference.
Maryland will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers, a Big East Conference school, is expected to follow suit, according to ESPN.
Known for its success in academics and basketball, Maryland will likely bring more revenue to the Big Ten. It will also help the conference tap into an East Coast market with which it currently lacks a strong affiliation with.
University of Minnesota athletics teams would likely travel to Maryland about a half-dozen times each year, which could increase travel costs.
Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague said in a Big Ten press release that Maryland is an “outstanding addition” to the conference.
“From an athletic and academic standpoint, Maryland is a great fit,” Teague said in the statement. “They have a tremendous fan base and bring another exceptional national brand to the Big Ten.”
Gophers head men’s basketball coach and Maryland native Tubby Smith said the move surprised him. He called it “great for the conference.”
“The Big Ten sure kept that one under wraps,” Smith said. “There’s some fertile recruiting out there.”
Smith also said in the Big Ten release that the decision is just as important for the conference as it is for Maryland.
“It is a region and media market that is one of the largest in the country, with it being near our nation’s capital,” Smith said.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany described the school as a good fit both on and off the field.
“Maryland is a tradition-rich institution with a history of academic and athletic excellence,” Delany said in a Big Ten release. “They’re a great fit, and we look forward to a great future.”
Maryland President Wallace Loh said membership in the Big Ten was in the school’s strategic interest, according to a Big Ten release.
“It will not only ensure the financial vitality of Maryland Athletics for decades to come, but … [it] will boost the University of Maryland’s ascendancy in academic excellence,” Loh said in the release.
For an institution like Maryland to be admitted to the Big Ten, it must submit a written application, which then requires approval from 70 percent of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors.
Maryland submitted the application Monday morning, and it was approved by early afternoon.
The Big Ten has not had 10 teams since 1993, when Penn State became its 11th team. Nebraska became the 12th member when it joined in 2011.
Maryland will have to pay an exit fee to leave the ACC, which was raised to about $50 million earlier this fall. Sources at Maryland told ESPN they believe the school will be able to negotiate the fee down.
The additions of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten could spur the league toward negotiations for a new-media rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.
Loh told Maryland’s Board of Regents that both Maryland and Rutgers would participate in the Leaders Division in football, forcing Illinois to the Legends Division, according to ESPN.
The Gophers currently compete in the Legends division with Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa. The winner of each division competes in the Big Ten championship game in early December.
Maryland’s football program has historically struggled against ACC foes — much weaker opposition than it will face in the Big Ten.