Report: Big Ten subsidizing Maryland's travel costs

Patrick McDermott

Another deal sweetener in a deal that was already pretty sweet.

Another bit of news, like the Barclays Center deal, that we just didn't have time to get to yesterday. And just like that was, it's definitely some more (perhaps needed, depending on how tonight goes) good news: from the Baltimore Sun, Maryland's deal with the Big Ten will include a substantial grant from the conference to subsidize its travel costs, which would ameliorate one of the biggest lingering concerns in the conference switch.

Since financial details of the agreement are kept private - the amount of the subsidy is not publicly available. But the amount is in the range of $20 million to $30 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The subsidy underscores how much the Big Ten coveted Maryland and the accompanying Baltimore-Washington television market. Maryland had some leverage in the talks because - unlike some schools exploring jumping conferences - it was not coming from a league, the ACC, that appears in imminent danger of collapse.

Maryland's team travel budget for 2012-13 is about $3 million, the athletic department said in response to a Baltimore Sun request. Based on information available before team schedules come out, the projected figure for 2014-15 - once the school is in the Big Ten - is $6 million.

So the travel budget is going to approximately double, from about $3mil to $6mil, but the Big Ten seems prepared to fund that $3mil increase for at least seven or so years, perhaps for as much as a decade. By that time, the hope would be that Maryland has stabilized its athletic department's finances and would be able to eat such an increase on their own - indirectly subsidized, of course, by the massive money differential in Big Ten and ACC payouts.

As a bonus, if the Big Ten continues to expand eastward and adds schools like Virginia or North Carolina, that travel number should fall, as the conference divisions become more geographically aligned. Travel to Rutgers, Penn State, and Ohio State already isn't killer; adding a few more relatively short trips like that would make the conference much like the ACC, with a few really long trips every year (Minneapolis and Lincoln aren't exactly close) but mostly manageable.

Also in the report: no one else in the Big Ten is believed to be getting this subsidy. It's yet another concession the B1G had to make to get Maryland on board, in addition to fronting them their money to help pay off the exit fee and debt. Say what you will about the move, but these guys put together a heck of a package. This move seemed tough to turn down even before the news about fronting UMD money and subsidizing their travel came out; when all of that's actually factored in, it's clear the B1G so desperately wanted Maryland - and, more accurately, it's TV markets and expansion pathway to the rest of the ACC - that it was putting together an offer that the Terps couldn't turn down. And, as a bonus, it should get the athletic department on healthy financial footing more quickly than it would've otherwise done, which is good for everyone - both UMD and the B1G itself.

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