Dear Kevin Anderson,
Maryland is on the verge of being a crucial member of the best basketball conference in the entire country. It's football program is still in the rebuilding process, and a switch in opponents and added distances will destroy progress. And in terms of finances, it is illogical to pay a $50 million exit fee to add the athletic department's mounting debt.
Let's talk hoops.
Next year, Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame will join the ACC's hotbed of hoops. For years, the debate has ranged on whether it was the Big East or the ACC that was the nation's best basketball conference. Now, the class of the Big East will become members of the ACC.
Now, there's perennial powers, Duke and North Carolina. There are the growing programs of Maryland, N.C. State and Florida State. And now regular NCAA Tournament teams in 'Cuse, Pitt and the Fighting Irish.
There is NO discussion now as to which conference is the best. Maryland, as we've seen early on in this basketball season, is a developing program fresh with young talent and a driven head coach. Why take them out of the best conference in America and relocate them in Big 10 country?
Sure, the Big 10 has Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State. They also have Iowa and Nebraska. The Big 10 is a slower, more boring style of hoops. Aside from the few elite teams, it is a shallower conference. And let's be real (#realtalk) for a second; there's more white guys, so you tell me what's more exciting?
There's the football team.
It's cliche, but Maryland's football record this season does not reflect the strides the program has made in Year 2 in the Randy Edsall Era. You realize a reserve linebacker has been taking snaps under center, right?
Sure, the team will lose some of its key seniors — the Kenneth Tates, the Joe Vellanos and Kevin Dorseys of the world. But there is a still a youthful infusion of talent — the Stefons Diggses and Wes Browns, plus a handful of quarterbacks returning.
The team is making progress, and to disrupt the chemistry of the team by changing its schedule and adding traveling to the mix is a complete and utter mistake.
There's the BORDER WAR vs. Virginia. Maryland DOES NOT share a border with Iowa. Marylanders care about who wins bragging rights when they face off the Cavs; they do not give a (bleep) about who wins the Cattle Battle.
Speaking of which, the biggest issue with Big 10 competition is the distances traveled each week. It is illogical to travel to Nebraska, then host Michigan State, then fly back out to Illinois. Travel costs and time are overwhelming, just like it is for TCU to travel to The Big Apple or West Virginia to head out to Texas multiple times throughout the season.
Remaining in the ACC, the Terps get to play their traditional rivals. The ACC is not as strong as a football conference as the Big 10, but it also is making progress.
There are the Florida States and Virginia Techs, of course, but North Carolina is on the rise. Georgia Tech is sure to return to the top. Miami proved the doubters wrong. And the Dukies – DUKE is competitive and likely bowl-bound this season!
Pitt and 'Cuse aren't intimidating football teams, but they add some "cred" to the mix. And Notre Dame — hello, they're No. 1 in the country, and Maryland and the rest of the ACC will get its shots to face off against the Golden Domers.
Then there's the economics of it all.
Maryland's athletic department was forced to cut ties with eight teams this summer –men's and wommen's swimming and diving, women's water polo, acrobatics and tumbling; men's indoor and outdoor track, and cross-country.
The teams were lost because the department's debt was projected to reach $17 million by 2017. Instead, scholarships, programs and inevitably dreams were all eliminated to save $4 million in this fiscal year.
To exit the ACC, it will cost $50 million. The conference recently raised that rate, despite both Maryland and Florida State voting against it.
The Noles had also been involved in conference realignment discussions, but as of now those have been quieted.
Maryland, for some reason, was also against it. It was reported that the school was irked by Notre Dame's deal to join the ACC.
If they are so petty and angry they are willing to somehow collect $50 million and sign that check to leave, then I have two questions. 1) What are you cutting to get those funds — journalism? 2) How do you explain to the men's and women's swim team that instead of funding their programs, you wanted to be a Big 10 school?
So, Mr. Anderson, let me leave you with these thoughts.
Maryland has an opportunity to be an elite member of the best hoops conference in the country over the next few years. A power in the powerhouse ACC. Why change gears and join an inferior conference?
Maryland's football program is on its way back to competitiveness. Why disrupt the chemistry, rivalries and add extra traveling to join the Big 10? Maryland can be competitive in this conference, which is only set to get better, and can retain its rivalries in the process.
And if the department is so wary of debt, how can it afford to pay a $50 exit fee? Why should eight teams which included a number of aspiring athletes and scholarship students suffer because the department chose to use its money toward conference realignment instead of their futures?
Mr. Anderson, be smart about this. Keep Maryland in the ACC. Keep its history in the ACC – the first African American football player was a Terp; that's a unique part of sports and American history. Keep its future in the ACC – Maryland can be a part of something special here in the conference's new chapter.
Do the right thing. You know what it is.
Sam Spiegelman (On Twitter @SamSpiegs)
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