Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany and officials from the University of Maryland announced at a joint press conference Monday that the school has joined the league as its 13th member.
University President Wallace Loh trumpeted the move as vital for the long-term stability of the university's athletic department.
"This is, today, a watershed moment for the University of Maryland," Loh said at the press conference, which was broadcast on the Big Ten Network. "Membership in the Big Ten is in the strategic interests of the University of Maryland. No. 1, by being members of the Big Ten Conference, we will be able to ensure the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for decades to come."
The move that the school's Board of Regents approved Monday morning will become effective July 1, 2014, Loh said.
Shortly thereafter, Delany said, Big Ten university presidents voted unanimously to accept Maryland's application for membership and were "giddy" to do so, despite the school's East Coast location outside the conference's traditionally Midwestern heart.
"We realize that all of the major conferences are slightly outside of their footprint," Delany said. "We focused on the University of Maryland as a great university, as a flagship university in an adjacent state, rich with terrific demographics, rich with great political institutions, great media institutions, great high schools producing great students."
With new revenue from the move, the athletic department intends to reinstate seven sports that were cut earlier this year as a result of budget constraints, Loh indicated.
For Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, that is a key element of the decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland was a founding member of the ACC in 1953.
"We have done so much with so little for so long," Anderson said. "Now imagine what our teams are going to be able to accomplish with the financial stability we'll be able to present them. For me, the most important thing today is that no future Maryland athletic director will ever have to look into young men and young womens' eyes and say that 'You can't compete here anymore.' "
Loh also stressed that Maryland will use its new resources to support its "educational enterprise."
The school, located in College Park just outside Washington, D.C., has an enrollment of almost 27,000 and is ranked No. 58 nationally by U.S. News and World Report.
"We wanted to join the Big Ten because we also wanted to join their associated academic consortium, known as the CIC, the Committee for Institutional Cooperation," Loh said. "The Big Ten institutions, as you know, are our peer institutions, top ranked, flag ship and [Association of American Universities] Institutions, very similar profiles to ours. And they have a network of collaboration and exchanging education, research and innovation that we can take advantage of and that will further propel our upward ascendency in academic excellence."
The Maryland football program is 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the ACC this season under second-year coach Randy Edsall, who went 2-12 in his first season at the helm in 2011. The program's last bowl appearance came in 2010, when the Terrapins defeated Eastern Carolina in the Military Bowl to finish with a 9-4 record.
Penn State has a 35-1-1 record all-time against Maryland. The teams last met in 1993, when the Nittany Lions earned a 70-7 win in College Park.
Edsall is hopeful that Big Ten membership will help his program better compete after its recent struggles.
"I think what it will do, it will open up other areas in recruiting for us out in the Midwest," Edsall told the Big Ten Network. "And with the opportunities that we have here with our institution and this area, kids will see the benefit of coming to the University of Maryland and we know that, hey, we're going to have challenges week in and week out playing the likes of all the teams in the Big Ten. But as a competitor, as players and coaches, that's something we're really going to look forward to."
The men's basketball program, meanwhile, is 2-1 in the early going this season after missing the post-season with a 17-15 record in 2011-2012. The Terrapins won a national championship under former coach Gary Williams in 2002 and have made 24 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. They last faced the Lions in 2010, when Maryland earned a 62-39 win at the Bryce Jordan Center in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Maryland is looking forward to re-establishing ties with its old Eastern rival when its move becomes official.
"One of our great football rivalries, looking back in history, was Penn State," Chancellor of the University System of Maryland Brit Kirwan said on a conference call with reporters. "There was great dismay in Maryland when Penn State went to the Big Ten and we could no longer play them in football. It's not like we don't have some connections there in the Big Ten, it will be very meaningful to our institution."
Meanwhile, Delany believes Maryland's presence, coupled with Penn State's, solidifies the Big Ten's eastern wing.
"When you introduce Penn State into the equation and today's Maryland's day and there may be other considerations that may assist us in really building a presence in this corridor. Maryland is Maryland and Penn State is Penn State. And I do believe that together that we are a conference that now lives in two areas of the country, one mid-western, one mid-Atlantic," Delany said.