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November 19, 2012

Smith sees value in adding Maryland

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - In a world where there are not many secrets left the addition of Maryland to the Big Ten remained a secret until just days before the announcement was made that the league was expanding and the Terps would give the Big Ten reach to the Atlantic Ocean.

On Monday afternoon the deal was struck and the conference expanded from 12 to 13 members (with more expansion rumored to be coming as soon as Tuesday afternoon) and a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) would pull up stakes and join the Big Ten.

There was more excitement on a whole among university presidents and athletic directors than with some Maryland fans however who may be a little bit resistant to change and leaving what many still feel is a Southern conference for one that has had its roots in the Midwest since the 19th century.

Monday evening, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith met with the Columbus media to talk about what went into the decision to add Maryland and why the time was right and what to expect as the league makes its second addition in less than five years.

"I really didn't have any (concerns) with Maryland," Smith said. "It is not a distance issue for us, there are no travel issues for us. I have looked at teams on our board and been like, 'Oh my God, how are we going to get there?', but this one didn't it, I didn't have a pause with Maryland."

Maryland will not join the conference until July 1st, 2014 but much like the addition of the Nebraska Cornhuskers only a couple of years ago, there is plenty of work that has to be done in order to make the changes necessary to welcome a new team(s) to the league.

"Maryland is a great addition to our conference," Smith said. "We are looking forward to getting down to the details and trying to deal with the scheduling issues and the transition issues but welcome University of Maryland."

The University of Maryland recently had to cut several varsity sports due to a lack of financial resources and the hope of university staff is to be able to add several of the previously cut sports back in addition to spending more resources not only in athletic endeavors but also in academic concerns as well. Revenues from the Big Ten Network, coupled with bowl payouts in the Big Ten dwarf the current payouts in the ACC and have will put the Terps in a much more secure financial position moving forward once they are a part of the league.

But the move also helps the Buckeyes and the Big Ten as contracts are coming up for First Tier broadcasting rights of the revenue sports.

[ Related: Check out Smith's full press conference ]

"I think you can't skirt the fact that financially it assists us as we move forward towards our television agreement that expires in 2017."

It is approximately 425 miles from the Ohio State campus to the Maryland campus, that means the trip is a little bit longer than a trip to Evanston (Ill.) to the Northwestern campus but a little bit shorter than a trip to Madison (Wis.) to the Wisconsin campus.

Ohio State fans are not used to traveling east often for Big Ten competition with only Penn State east of Columbus. Smith believes that fans from Ohio will enjoy trips out to College Park (Md.) and that fans already on the eastern seaboard will also enjoy the addition.

"I frankly think it is going to be really cool to go into that market," Smith said. "If I was a fan I would go to (Washington) D.C. first and then I would go over to the game. I would go to Georgetown and have a Diet Coke and chill in Georgetown for a while. I see so many different positives off of this."

Tuesday the Big Ten is expected to add Rutgers as the 14th team for the Big Ten conference. Smith chose on Monday night to not speak about any further expansion and wanted to keep the conversation on the Terps.

"Today is about Maryland, I am very happy that we have Maryland in the league today." Smith said.



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