Big Ten Moves Set Stage For Yet Another Spate Of Conference Realignment
There was a "sense of shock" among college execs over the weekend following the news the Univ. of Maryland is heading to the Big 10 and Rutgers Univ. is rumored to be headed there too, as well as "some concern that another round of panic-driven moves could be at hand," according to Dan Wolken of USA TODAY. One major-conference AD who asked not to be identified said, "Everyone's going to start looking over their shoulder again." Wolken notes it also "caught many by surprise that Maryland, which has recently had to cut sports to meet budget, would swallow the $50 million buyout from the ACC and the Big Ten would be interested in Rutgers." Across the spectrum of coaches and administrators, nobody "knows right now where all this is headed." They just "know it's about to be their headache again" (USA TODAY, 11/19). ORANGEBLOODS.com's Chip Brown notes the ACC will look to "reach out to Connecticut as Maryland's replacement. These moves should not affect the Big 12 "in the short term," but it again "opens the door for a school like Florida State to consider leaving the ACC without feeling like the one tearing the league apart." The Univ. of Louisville "has been constantly waving its arms at the Big 12 to say, pick me," but the Big 12 is "not interested in making that move at this time" (ORANGEBLOODS.com, 11/18).
KNIGHT'S DAY: In Newark, Tom Luicci writes the Big Ten views UM and Rutgers as a "package deal but wants Maryland, the more reluctant school because of its strong ties to the ACC and as much as a $50 million exit penalty, to be the first to join." One prominent college official yesterday said that it "appears as if Rutgers is on the way out of the Big East." Rutgers faces a $10M "exit penalty and 27-month waiting period for leaving the Big East," but the league has recently "negotiated early releases with West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/19). Also in Newark, Steve Politi wrote Rutgers has "been down this road before." Sources within the university community were "cautiously optimistic" late Saturday, but any potential move is "contingent on Maryland figuring out a way to pay (or avoid) a $50 million exit fee from the ACC to become the 13th member." For Rutgers, this move "not only makes sense on every level, it's a dream scenario for an athletic program that has feared, after dedicating so many resources to its resurgence, it would end up on the outside looking in as the college landscape continues to shift" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/18). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes, "The impact on Rutgers would be monumental, bringing monetary reward, academic prestige and instant athletic respect." If Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti "pulls this one off, he will maneuver the most important shift in the school's identity we have ever seen" (Bergen RECORD, 11/19).
THE NEXT DOMINO TO FALL? UConn has been mentioned as a possible replacement for UM in the ACC, and in Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes UConn President Susan Herbst and AD Warde Manuel would be "run out of the state if they even thought about saying no" to moving to the conference. UConn "appears to be the obvious choice" should Maryland leave the conference. Yet how often has the obvious "been wrong in college athletics in recent years?" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/19).