The University of Maryland’s Board of Regents recently voted to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten and begin competing in this conference in the 2014-15 school year (ESPN). The Terps will have to pay a $50 million dollar exit fee, to leave the ACC (ESPN). Maryland obviously made this decision for the two main sports there, which are football and basketball. The Big Ten is very competitive in both of those sports and the move to this new conference will help raise money through those two programs.
How will this move affect the lacrosse program at Maryland though is a huge question. Coach John Tillman recently addressed questions about the future of Maryland’s lacrosse program. Tillman really has no clue what to expect. He is going in with an open mind, he states about the problem, “There’s so much that can happen that we’ve really kind of taken a wait and see approach to everything,” (Inside Lacrosse).
Maryland will be leaving the most respected lacrosse country in the country to join the Big Ten. The Big Ten is a powerhouse athletic conference but they do not sponsor men’s lacrosse. The Terps have many possibilities that could happen for them in the 2015 season. The first option is that with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten, and the current conference schools of Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan playing in other conferences this gives the conference five teams (Inside Lacrosse). If the conference decided to sponsor men’s lacrosse and could find one more team, they would then meet the six-team rule for an NCAA automatic qualifier (Inside Lacrosse). Another option is that they could go independent after leaving the ACC, meaning they would still play many of their old rivals but do not have the opportunity for getting an automatic bid (Inside Lacrosse). The last option the Terps have is to be an affiliate member of another conference that sponsors lacrosse (Inside Lacrosse). This situation is risky though, considering they do not know the future conference shifts and the peculiarities of joining some conferences for only one sport.
Maryland right now has a great strength of schedule, which prepares them very well for the NCAA tournament, which can be seen with their back-to-back appearances in the National Championship. With this shift the Terps want to keep as much of their schedule as they can. They do not want to play weak teams all season then get to the tournament and be shocked, like teams such as UMass experience. It will be very interesting to see where Maryland’s new home will be for the 2015 season and how it will affect the team.