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Big Ten To Subsidize Maryland's Travel Costs

Streeter Lecka

An exclusive article from the Baltimore Sun reveals that the University of Maryland negotiated an extra subsidy for their travel costs when the Terrapins join the Big Ten conference in 2014:

The University of Maryland's deal to join the Big Ten includes not only the lucrative annual payouts that all members receive, but also a significant concession obtained by the school - a subsidy worth tens of millions of dollars from the conference to offset athletic teams' anticipated higher travel costs, according to multiple sources.

The subsidy, which Maryland was promised in negotiations with the conference late last year, made an already appealing offer of Big Ten membership even more attractive to the school.

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 is a sign as to how badly the Big Ten wanted to add Maryland because of their proximity to the Baltimore - Washington D.C. television markets.

To Husker fans this appears to be an unfair advantage for Maryland, as Nebraska (and other schools such as Rutgers) will not be given the same subsidy despite potentially incurring the same increased travel costs in going to Maryland and Rutgers, but the subsidy is also a sign that the Big Ten recognizes that it won't do much good to bring in an athletic department that's broke and cannot sustain itself. (Husker fans might recall that it was inequity within the conference that ultimately broke up the Big XII, but in reality it wasn't so much inequity as it was the concerns about the long term stability of the conference.)

Keep in mind that Maryland is still in process of negotiating their exit fee from the ACC with the conference having already filed a lawsuit seeking to collect over $52 million. Maryland has countersued, claiming that the exit fee is a violation of antitrust law, so you can include legal fees amongst those the Terrapins will be facing.

Unfortunately, the financial problems at Maryland won't go away easily as they have been around a long time due to mismanagement within the athletic department. The real worry for Nebraska and other Big Ten members is whether Maryland can solve those problems while simultaneously bringing value to the conference as the BTN is set to renegotiate their contracts in 2017.

Another potential long-term problem is the feeling of inequity that the subsidy creates within the conference. The Big Ten has emphasized that all of its members are equal, but with Maryland getting what is perceived as special treatment, the Terrapins may be hated before they ever join the conference.