BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published November 20, 2012
During a week that usually evokes bitter hatred between Ohio and Michigan, many Big Ten students were found united in their distaste for the announcement that two new universities will be joining the Big Ten Conference. On Nov. 19 and 20, the University of Maryland and Rutgers University, respectively, announced they would be joining the Big Ten, an expansion that will undoubtedly shake up one of the nation’s most respected and traditional sports conferences. This move was inspired by purely financial interests and will serve little benefit to either University students or student athletes.
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The University of Maryland has announced it will be joining the Big Ten effective as of July 1, 2014 and will begin competition in the conference in the 2014-2015 academic year. Though Rutgers hasn’t clearly stated when it will be joining the conference due to possible complications regarding its exit from the Big East, many anticipate a similar entry date to Maryland's. With the addition of two teams — bringing the total number of teams in the Big Ten to 14 — the structure of the conference schedule will undoubtedly require adjustment.
Insiders believe these adjustments will result in an extended conference schedule, thus creating a more physically straining season for all student athletes. The location of these two schools is also a source of concern considering that student athletes will have to travel out of the historically Midwest territory to the East Coast. According to Time Magazine, the average travel time for Maryland to a Big Ten opponent now jumps to 664 miles — a 42-percent increase from when they were a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. With teams as far as Nebraska and New Jersey, student athletes will now have to travel for longer periods of the semester, impeding their ability to be functional students.
This decision was made out of financial interests as opposed to the interests of the student body. The Big Ten currently has the most lucrative television contract of any conference, with each member receiving about $24 million in television revenue last year. According to ESPN, the total amount of Big Ten Network revenue may increase as much as $200 million with the introduction of new Maryland and New York City television markets. Although this money will positively affect the Athletic Department, the average student will likely see little of the increased revenue.
The decision to add Rutgers and Maryland was done far too swiftly and lacked any transparency. Most Big Ten fans were stunned to hear the news on Monday, considering that nearly no one had heard any news of possible talks with the two schools. To many, this sudden announcement seemed inappropriate and lacked the approval of students, alumni, student athletes and even coaches.
The Big Ten is the oldest Division 1 conference in the United States. The tradition and history that made the Big Ten so storied is now under attack from financial interests. Without limiting greedy expansions such as these, the Big Ten will continue to be degraded.