By MATT SUGAM & ADAM ZAGORIAUNCASVILLE, Conn. — It appears the seismic shifts in conference realignment will continue.
And this time Maryland and Rutgers are involved.
Just days after the Big East set up their football divisions for next season, Maryland is in “serious negotiations” to join the Big Ten, ESPN reports. Sources told ESPN that the Big Ten is looking to add Maryland, and Rutgers would follow, and that an announcement could come as soon as early next week.
“I would not be surprised, because [Maryland and Rutgers] was always the next step,” one prominent college athletic director told Yahoo! Sports. “And [it would explain] why Maryland voted against the $50 million withdrawal fee [from the ACC].”
A Big East spokesman declined comment on the matter.
Rutgers would be the ninth team since 2004 to leave the Big East. Their buyout from the Big East would be $10 million and they would have to give 27 months notice.
However, the Big East allowed West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to leave earlier than the 27-month requirement by paying a higher exit fee. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC in 2013, and Notre Dame could as well.
Maryland — which voted against the $50 million buyout rule in the ACC, but lost the vote — would be the first school to leave the ACC since South Carolina departed in 1971 to become an independent. (They are now part of the SEC.)
Maryland and Rutgers would bring the Big Ten to 14 schools.
Both schools stand to earn big paydays.
Last year each Big Ten school received a record $24.6 million in shared revenue, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Asked his thoughts on the Rutgers and Maryland developments, Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta said, “What league are they in now? I have no idea.”
When told which leagues they were in, Matta said, “I had no idea Maryland was in the ACC.”
He added: “I don’t know what’s going on with it.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, a Maryland native whose team is playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer event in Brooklyn, was surprised by the news.
“That kinda comes out of left field,” he told ZAGSBLOG’s Dan Kelly. “Certainly I’m happy with our future home, whenever we get there. I really thought, quite frankly, that with us landing in the ACC the movement may have stopped. Famous last words, huh?
“I guess we’re still in that movement faze. I have a hard time seeing Maryland not being in the ACC. Crazier things have happened. I’m happy with our new home though down the road.”
ESPN reported that UConn would be the likely school to take Maryland’s place in the ACC.
The allure of Rutgers for the Big Ten is what the school has always pushed during conference realignment, the New York City market.
Given an offer, it’s a no-brainer for Rutgers to leave. Despite having a BCS bid, the Big East is left out of the conversation of the top football conferences. While they used to be part of the power six, it has dwindled down to the power five of the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12.
On the basketball front, Rutgers coach Mike Rice would likely have to shift his recruiting focus somewhat from the Northeast to the Midwest.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.