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Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith welcomes Maryland to Big Ten

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

The University of Maryland is now part of Big Ten country. For Ohio State’s part, OSU athletic director Gene Smith said he is happy with the addition. 

Maryland’s Board of Regents voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the university’s application to the Big Ten Conference, prompting current Big Ten presidents to assemble for a Monday teleconference where the school’s admittance was approved unanimously. 

Maryland athletics, which bears the nickname “Terrapins,” a kind of turtle, will abandon the Atlantic Coast Conference after nearly six decades of membership. Maryland is expected to negotiate down the ACC’s $50 million exit fee to help facilitate the conference switch. 

Maryland’s move to the Big Ten will take effect July 1, 2014.

Maryland President Dr. Wallace D. Loh said talks about the school’s move to the Big Ten began to heat up about two weeks ago. The move to the conference rooted traditionally in Midwestern universities, Loh said, was motivated by the need to stabilize its athletic department’s finances.

“This is, today, a watershed moment for Maryland,” Loh said during a Monday press conference at the university’s student union in College Park, Md. “Membership in the Big Ten is in the strategic interest in the University of Maryland. As member … we will be able to ensure the financial stability of (Maryland athletics) for decades to come.”

As Loh spoke, he was joined on an elevated platform by coaches from 15 of the university’s 20 athletics teams, as well athletic director Kevin Anderson, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and university Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan, a former OSU president.

Smith welcomed Maryland, the 13th team in the Big Ten, and Terrapins fans during a Monday press conference at the Fawcett Center.

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to extend to Maryland and its constituency and its fans, all the people who work at the University of Maryland, a warm welcome on behalf of Ohio State University and Buckeye Nation,” Smith said. “We look forward to having you as a member of our family and embracing your rich tradition and everything that you mean to higher education and intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s a great move for our conference. When you think about where the landscape is today (and) what is happening in intercollegiate athletics, there is going to be, and, I think, as we move toward the future and years out, there will continue to be some change. Maryland is a great addition to our conference, so we’re looking forward to getting down to the details of trying to deal with the scheduling issues.”

Rutgers is expected to be added as the Big Ten’s 14th team Tuesday, according to multiple reports, but Smith did not comment on that possibility, saying instead, “today is about Maryland.”

Delany also declined to comment on the possibility of a Rutgers addition during the press conference in College Park.

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