Expansion

Expanding Dollars

ESPN reported Monday morning that the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents have voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference and leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sources have also told ESPN that Rutgers University was expected to announce its intent to leave the Big East Conference and join the Big Ten.

Big Ten fans will likely be shocked by these developments.

They shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, college athletics have become more about bottom lines than yard lines. When Nebraska was added to the Big Ten, we were told it was a decision that was as much about academics as athletics.

If the Big Ten Conference adopts these two programs (and it appears to be just a formality at this point), this will not be about academics or athletics. It will be about one thing – money. I’m sure Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will tell us how both schools are members of the Association of American Universities, a testament to their academic excellence. He will tell us how these schools have a proud tradition of athletic excellence. But this will only be about television revenue.

Television revenue is based on the numbers in television markets. And make no mistake, adding Baltimore and New York to the Big Ten Network footprint would likely mean huge dollars for the conference and its institutions, including Nebraska.

Imagine a road game at Rutgers. A trip to Rutgers is 1,288 miles from Lincoln. That’s an additional 213 miles east of State College, Pa. Thinking about a road trip to Maryland? College Park, Maryland is 1,207 miles from Lincoln.

There have been times that Nebraska’s fit in the Big Ten has felt like it was accomplished with a shoe horn. One could argue that Nebraska is dramatically different from its new conference rivals. But Nebraska is much more similar to the current league schools than it would be to Maryland and Rutgers.

But regardless of what is said in the coming days, it’s difficult to believe this decision is about anything more than money.