Maryland’s Defection: An Outsider’s Perspective

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

Editor’s Note: This article appears on both TechSideline.com and InsideTheACC.com.

I read a fascinating article yesterday in the Washington Post that detailed Maryland’s decision to move to the Big Ten Conference. The details in the article paint a picture of some of the forces that are at work in conference realignment, and though the circumstances are particular to one school, I think that every college sports fan who follows conference realignment can learn something from the Maryland situation.

Don’t click on that link and read the article yet. Save it for later. It’s a long article, and the purpose of my article is to pull some things from the Washington Post article and comment on them. You know … the typical blogger’s technique of piggybacking on someone else’s work. But bear with me.

Full disclosure: I’m a Virginia Tech guy, born and bred, a latecomer to the ACC, and mostly ignorant of Maryland’s athletic history and culture. Having said that, I also do not share the disdain many Hokie fans have for Maryland, their athletic department, and their fans. The only time I’ve been to Maryland for a sporting event was the 2005 Virginia Tech-Maryland football game. I didn’t have a single unpleasant encounter with a Maryland fan, and didn’t come away thinking any more or any less of their fan base.

That’s why the article is titled like it is. It’s an outsider’s perspective on what went down at Maryland. Treat it as such.

Here are the basic financial facts you need to know before proceeding, all of them from the linked WP article:

  • Maryland’s athletic department ran almost $5 million in the red in fiscal 2012, and was projected to triple that deficit by 2017, had they stayed in the ACC.
  • The Big Ten, via its Big Ten Network and more lucrative ABC/ESPN TV deal and bowl deals, is projected by Sports Illustrated to pay out $32 million to Maryland in 2014-15, versus $20 million Maryland would have gotten from the ACC.
  • The Big Ten projected that in 2017, Maryland would receive $43 million from the Big Ten, versus a $24 million projected payout from the ACC.

So the financial incentives were strong.

But what’s interesting to me is the players who were the decision makers in Maryland’s move to the Big Ten, most notably school president Wallace Loh.

Rule #1 of conference realignment is this: Athletic directors and coaches don’t make the decision. The school president and board of visitors (in Maryland’s case, a Board of Regents) make the decision. That’s a lot of people, who may or may not care about athletics, who are making the decision. Only one person on the athletic side, the athletic director, gets any input, but doesn’t get a vote.

The Players for Maryland

Maryland’s president is Wallace D. Loh, who took the position on Nov. 1, 2010, just two years ago. From the WP the article (all quotes in this article are from the WP article):

Born in China and raised in Peru with degrees from Cornell, Michigan and Yale, Loh was an outsider to the ACC. A psychologist and lawyer by training, he wasn’t particularly obsessed with college athletics.

“Wasn’t particularly obsessed with college athletics”, indeed.  More on that later.

Not mentioned is that Loh was the provost at Iowa from 2008-2010, prior to becoming Maryland’s president, and at Iowa, he “oversaw budgets and personnel for the state university’s eleven colleges”, per another Washington Post article.

Loh can be summed up thus: born in China, educated in the U.S. with a 30-year career in academic administration, most recently with a focus on budgets (money).

Soon after becoming president at Maryland, Loh attended a meeting of the Association of American Universities.

Shortly after accepting his post [at Maryland], Loh attended a meeting of officials from schools belonging to the Association of American Universities, a consortium of research universities that included, at that time, all the Big Ten schools. Loh had not yet delved into the finances of his own athletic department, and wasn’t terribly familiar with the landscape of college sports. But the topic of conference expansion — a popular point of discussion among university leaders, given the constant shift over the previous decade — came up.

“If you guys are ever interested in expanding,” Loh remembers telling them, “I would be interested in hearing what you have to say.”

That offhand comment, by a guy who knew very little about college athletics and didn’t yet know the dire financial condition of his own athletic department, laid the groundwork for the Big Ten to court Loh.

Loh later found out about Maryland’s athletic department running deeply in the red, and he and athletic director Kevin Anderson (whom Loh hired) together decided to cut seven sports.

Time passed. In October of 2012, just a couple months ago, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney called Loh and suggested they meet and talk. Loh agreed, but when he told Anderson that he was going to meet with the Big Ten, Anderson warned Loh.

When Loh told his athletic director, Anderson responded, “Wallace, you are not serious? You realize this is such a hot issue with our fans. You don’t want to go that direction.”

Loh did anyway. He took Anderson and two other athletic department employees to meet with Delaney and other Big Ten officials in Chicago on October 12th.

Delaney laid out the details of the Big Ten: its structure, its financials (including the Big Ten Network, TV deals, and bowl deals), its revenue sharing, and Delaney’s vision for its future.

The next quote from the Post article is a jaw-dropper.

“I mean, I was totally stunned,” Loh said. “Remember, all that I know about the Big Ten and the ACC at this time is that there are games. .?.?. It really opened my eyes because I’ve never been involved with the details of a conference.”

And there you have it. 30 years as a career academic administrator at the collegiate level, and Loh admits to knowing almost nothing about athletic conferences, other than “there are games.” And he’s the driving force behind moving Maryland to the Big Ten.

Still, if Loh was to drive Maryland into a new conference, he had a sell job at every turn. The following week, he met with his cabinet — and told the members he had spoken with the Big Ten.

“Their first reaction was, ‘You must be kidding,’ ” Loh said. But Loh passed on the financial information the Big Ten had given him. Provost Mary Ann Rankin, Loh’s second-in-command on the academic side, provided key support. Rankin grew up in the Midwest and was weaned on Big Ten football. During her time at the University of Texas, Rankin had heard of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an academic and research partnership among Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago.

The more digging Rankin did, the more impressed she became. It was clear that while the CIC didn’t need to be a driving force for a potential move, it could be an attractive academic element for faculty.

Again, there you have it. Loh’s partner in crime, so to speak, was provost Mary Ann Rankin, who was hired at Maryland on October 1st, 2012. “Weaned on Big Ten football”, she had been in College Park for all of eleven days when Loh met with Delaney in Chicago. Loh “passed on the financial information” to her, and after some investigation, Rankin thought moving to the Big Ten and joining the CIC “could be an attractive academic element for faculty.”

Notice what’s missing from the discussion? Athletics. Rivalries. Tradition. Competitiveness. Geography. History.

Wallace Loh and Mary Ann Rankin don’t come from Maryland roots. They don’t know anything about Maryland athletics or the Terps’ athletic history. In all likelihood, neither one of them will be at Maryland five years from now. (Loh is 66 years old, and Rankin received her doctorate in physiology and behavior from Iowa in 1972, which would put her in her early 60s at the youngest.)

And yet, they were the major forces behind Maryland’s move to the Big Ten.

Pushing Through the Change … Quickly and Secretly

After Loh got Rankin on board, they went to the Maryland Board of Regents, some of whom are longtime Maryland boosters, fans, and alums. They are people who “get it” when it comes to the history of Maryland and the ACC. But Loh was persuasive and persistent, and things proceeded rapidly with the Big Ten.

Maryland and the Big Ten got to down to decision time, but the fact that more people were involved means the rumors got out and started circulating on blogs and the beat writers.

Delany felt comfortable, as did others. But the main sticking point in Loh’s mind — public opposition — bubbled up. He received hundreds of angry e-mails, and the news hadn’t even been widely reported.

Meantime, ACC Commissioner John Swofford called both Loh and Anderson on Friday, hoping to find out their intentions. He called again Saturday. Neither returned Swofford’s calls, according to an ACC official. The silence told them Maryland’s intentions.

The speed and secrecy with which Loh and other Maryland officials moved, and the “hundreds of angry emails” they received despite that secrecy, proves what Anderson told Loh when Loh first brought it up: You realize this is such a hot issue with our fans. You don’t want to go that direction.

The fact that Loh and Anderson wouldn’t answer John Swofford’s phone call speaks to the complete lack of loyalty that Loh and Anderson have to the ACC. (Anderson graduated from San Francisco State and served in athletic administration at Cal, Oregon State and Army before coming to Maryland in 2010.) They had extensive, secret discussions with the Big Ten, but never said boo to the ACC and never gave John Swofford a chance to make his pitch.

Loh certainly did his research on the Big Ten. I wonder if he did his research on the ACC?

On the morning of Monday, November 19th, the Maryland Board of Regents voted to make the move.

On Monday morning, the regents gathered in secret and without going through the normal formalities — which they have since admitted violated the state’s open meetings act — and voted to endorse the move.

Tom McMillen, a former Maryland basketball player and U.S. congressman, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The board’s willful violation of the state’s open meetings act sums up the whole situation: a president who is ignorant of college athletics (Loh), a provost from the Midwest who had been on the job for mere weeks (Rankin), an athletic director from the other side of the country (Anderson), negotiations conducted in secret with the Big Ten while not allowing the ACC to respond, and a Board of Regents that rushed the vote through in a private meeting held in violation of a state statute … that’s how Maryland fans were ripped from their conference home of nearly 60 years.

Maryland will now play football games against the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, and yes, Rutgers, all teams with which Maryland fans have little history and probably less interest. Resuming their long-dormant (since 1993) series with Penn State will probably be a boost, but the Terps have never played Nebraska or Ohio State, and haven’t played Michigan since 1990 or Michigan State since 1950.

North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia will no longer make trips to the Comcast Center. I doubt that playing against Big Ten teams will make the typical Maryland basketball fan’s skirt fly up.

Wallace Loh never saw Lefty Driesell prowl the sidelines at Cole Field House. I’ll bet Mary Ann Rankin’s never heard of the classic 103-100 overtime thriller between NC State and Maryland in the 1974 ACC Tournament Championship game. I’ll bet neither one of them paid attention when Len Bias died. And if you mention the names Jerry Claiborne, Bobby Ross, and Boomer Esiason to them, I’m sure you’d get a blank stare.

But these are the people who were responsible for moving Maryland from the ACC to the Big Ten.

I get it. I’m not stupid or naïve. I know that money rules the world, and a $19 million gap in payouts is a huge amount of money that can’t be ignored. I also know that Loh, Anderson and Rankin didn’t act alone; their Board of Regents approved this (albeit secretly).

But what happened at Maryland should be a lesson to the average college sports fan that things like athletic tradition and history don’t matter, and the decision makers can be completely disconnected from the desires of the average fan. Money and, yes, academics were the drivers behind Maryland’s move, and even as an outsider, I know what the Maryland fans have lost in the process.

Loh said in the press conference to announce Big Ten membership:

The world of ACC as we have known it is in the midst of change. And the job of a president is not just to look at the past or the present, but also to look to the future … it’s to be ahead of change, instead of having change overwhelm us.

A Hokie’s View

From a Virginia Tech perspective, the situations are completely different, in every way.

For one, the Virginia Tech fan base doesn’t have the long-term history with the ACC that Maryland does. Hokie fans are used to being conference nomads, from the Southern Conference to the Metro to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East to the ACC. If things do change in the future, the reaction from the Virginia Tech fan base will likely not be one of outrage. They’ll just have to get used to another schedule full of new schools. They’ve done it before.

Unlike Maryland newcomer Wallace Loh, Virginia Tech president Charles Steger graduated from Virginia Tech in 1969 and has been at the university ever since. He’s a Hokie through and through, knows all about Virginia Tech’s athletic history, and is no stranger to the ACC. He knows about college athletics, too; he is currently serving as the chair of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, and as such was heavily involved in the recent implementation of a playoff in Division 1A football.

Charles Steger knows more than “there are games.”

Virginia Tech’s athletic department runs solidly in the black, unlike Maryland’s, thanks to the stewardship of longtime (since 1997) athletic director Jim Weaver.

The entire power structure at Virginia Tech and in Virginia Tech athletics is stocked with longtime Virginia Tech people, people who appreciate the ACC and know all about the ACC, and are loyal to the ACC.

But that could change. Steger and Weaver are both closing in on retirement. Once there’s a new power structure in place, there’s no telling what the viewpoint of a new school president and athletic director will be, and how they’ll influence others. Hokies should take note of the Maryland tale to realize how quickly things can change.

 

Editor’s Note: We recommend the Washington Post article highly. It contains a lot more detail than the article you just read, including how the Big Ten front-loaded Maryland’s revenue-sharing to entice the Terps to switch. It’s excellent work and compelling reading.

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

83 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Being a resident of Maryland (or “Merlin” in the local dialect), I’m quite disappointed that after the move takes place, our Hokies won’t be playing at the Comcast Center or Byrd Stadium any more.

  2. As Parcells used to to say….”hey fellas…….hey fellas”? Listen up…..in 10 years, the initials ACC won’t evn cross anyone’s lips at UMD. As John Feinstein wrote the day after Maryland announced its move, Maryland has no rivals in the ACC……they alway “thought it was Duke and Duke took pride in pointing out “you’re not our rival.”

    Playing the likes of Pitt, Syracuse, BC, Miami and yes VT had no particular nostalgia for Terps. The old guard that remembered the days of Lefty are dwindling in numbers. Maryland had gone from a powerhouse in all ACCsports including football to an also ran in virtually all sports except women’s hoops. Even lacrosse which was a staple at Maryland long before it was played anywhere south of DC but for W&L and UVA is only so so long ago passed by Duke! UNC and Virginia.

    The question is, will Maryland invest the additional revenue in athletics and become a powerhouse? Or will academia scrape off the extra 20 million each year and leave Maryland in the dumpster fire that is Illinois, Purdue, iowa, Indiana and Minnesota football?

  3. It still amazes me that “loyalty to the ACC” would EVER be mentioned by anyone with VT history!! How short memories are that it does not matter that the ACC thumbed their noses at us for over 50 years AND that it took pressure from the Va. government and UVA to even get VT considered for admittance when it did happen. Loyalty my ass and I am offended that Will would make that statement as a closing remark to this column. I also know about the ACC (maybe more so than the VT admin who seem to have VERY short memories), I have NEVER appreciated the ACC and their oppressive nature towards my Alma Mater will NEVER be forgotten by me!!! Maybe more time will change that but, as of right now, the ACC can still kiss my a$$ when it comes to “loyalty”!!

    1. ???

      Don’t get offended. I’m just stating a fact. VT’s admins have more loyalty to the ACC than Loh, Rankin, and Anderson. At least, that’s a very well-educated guess from the outside looking in.

      1. Offended by an administration that thinks being crapped on by the ACC for so many years means nothing to their alumni!! And they could care less. Hell, it hasn’t been that long that half the “Haves” of the ACC even refused to schedule us in almost every sport.

        I hate it when so many subscribers express their disdain with VT football that they want to boycott games, drop out of anything financial in regards to VT athletics, etc BUT it wouldn’t take much from the current administration to make me change my mind. Turning the other cheek is one thing but taking it up the butt by the ACC for so many years and saying “Thank you, Sir. Give me some more because I now love you!” is way too much!! My new slogan, “Loyalty to the ACC, my A$$!!”

  4. Here is hoping the “next” generation of VT leadership is NOT so in love with the ACC (and it isn’t TOO late). I want to go to the SEC, and would have gone last round if we had the chance. It is the best football conference in America, we would get BETTER in the SEC, and the money…oh what we could do to ALL sports with the money! Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but you can dang sure be miserable in a very nice neighborhood!

    We have NO history with the ACC…except being treated like trash for decades, and only a little better now…The ACC means nothing to me now, and it meant nothing to me for all the years people pinned to be a member.

    I hope we aren’t destined to an existence in Carolina and frenchie’s “Boy’s Club” for the rest of eternity…but I fear that will be the case..

    Good for Maryland…

  5. Will great analysis but in the end just like all aspects of life it is “always about the Benjamins” and Loh had a budget background was really only concerned about finances. Sorry state of affairs. Money drives the University train. Nothing else counts when you get to the bottom line.

  6. Great article Will.

    And terrible decision by Maryland. More moves like this and college football and big time college athletics will crumble under its own bloated weight.

    MH

  7. What I found fascinating was how they decided to treat violating the Open Meetings Act as a cost of doing business. This particular law gets ignored whenever its convenient up here. There are seldom serious repercussions, and the penalty is not that severe anyway.

  8. Loh and Co. pulled the trigger, but you can bet Kevin Plank was deeply involved and this doesn’t go down without his blessing (and I would expect he helped broker the deal). I imagine we’ll see the Under Armour logo replacing Nike and Adidas in the next few years…

    Granted MD probably had to make this move out of necessity, but I believe that’s why Loh was hired – to pull them off of the fiscal cliff from which they were ready to plummet. They needed someone that understood the business side, not the athletic side. And frankly, the previous admins (who were more athletics oriented) got them in the red in the first place. The addition of the upper deck and luxury suites at Byrd Stadium killed them financially. They gambled and lost, based on modest success with the football program, and frankly underestimated the dedication of the fan base. Even when they were on their 11 win, 3 season roll, they may have one, true sellout per season if they’re lucky – FSU or the Hokies. The stadium expansion put them in a tailspin – the only way out was to jump to the B1G.

  9. Great article Will. I was born and raised in Baltimore, and have been a die hard Maryland BB fan since the day Lefty Dreisell first stepped foot in College Park. This move to the Big 10 makes me sick. Although on the face of it the motivation appears to be money, you have identified the real root cause – there are no Maryland men at Maryland (with apologies to Bo Schembechler).

  10. What the average fan thinks means nothing even at VT. Look at what happened to the long time above average fans during the reseating fiasco. Let me add that this is not sour grapes as it did not affect me in the least except to reconfirm that money talks and everything else walks.

  11. Loh had 2 choices regarding the Maryland athletic department – raise more revenue or cut costs/improve productivity. At most public officials do, he chose the former. While I don’t know the specifics why Maryland’s athletic department was losing money, piss poor management was the driver. Loh took the easy way out. Reforming is hardwork.

  12. Will, somehow I picked up that this article was directed at the Hokies to the SEC crowd. I get the point that caution needs to be taken that schools that consider moves like Maryland is making need to have invested leadership. That sounds good, but you’ve used Maryland to make a generalization. I’d be interested in comparing Maryland’s move to Texas A&M’s, maybe Nebraska’s, a few others I’m sure are out there. Did they have financial incentives? Did they have invested leadership? Did they forsake tradition for the almighty dollar? I’d be interested to have some other case studies before I tossed the baby out with the bath water by relying solely on the Maryland experience.

    1. Actually, if VT were to go to the SEC, I’d be okay with that. I’d be okay with the Big Ten (not likely to ever happen). I’d even be okay with the Big 12, if it were in an eastern division with WVU, Clemson, FSU, and some other attractive teams. (Don’t like the element of Texas ruling things, though.)

  13. This is one of the best articles I’ve seen written on the topic.

    Perfect analysis Will. I’m really impressed.

    1. Yes we beat Maryland up there in 2005 but the real secret was there was 500 cops in area just away from football dressed in riot gear. A bus driver taking me to my car was told about this as they expected a riot if Maryland had beaten this ranked VT team. Those students at Maryland are idiots if you can remember what happened after they won NCAAbasketball title.

  14. Let’s see. Outsiders made the decision. Tradition and athletic interests were not considered. Fans and their interests were irrelevant. Illegal meetings in secret. Refused to answer phone calls from the ACC commissioner. AND THEY DON”T WANT TO PAY THE 50 MIL FEE? Should get nothing but the middle finger from the ACC.

    1. Attorneys’ fees will probably make the exit fee seem trivial by comparison. I expect the disengagement to get really ugly…!!!

  15. So a foreign born intellectual with little knowledge of the people, culture, and with no loyalty to the institution he’s running gets hired. He’s spending the institution into bankruptcy and thinks he has a “revenue” problem. So he “fundamentally changes” that institution behind closed doors, to get more revenue, spurns the institutions allies, and alienates half the institutions followers…

    Wait – we are talking about Maryland, right? Er…

  16. What I’d really like to know is this:

    If a athletic department like Virginia Tech’s can operate consistently in the black, how is it that an athletic department from the same conference like Maryland’s, even after cutting seven sports, can manage to lose $5 million in a single year and be projected to be losing as much as $15 million a year in five years time???

    It would make a fascinating business school case study.

    This is why VT fans should be thankful for Jim Weaver. He may not be a glad-handed, shoulder-slapping “people person”, but he’s been a damn good businessman and administrator. He’s presided over the largest capital improvements in the history of VT athletics and still managed to keep us nicely in the black throughout.

      1. Ms Yow is well on her way to wrecking NC State now. It will make a nice encore performance to her time at Maryland. It is a shame she missed her real calling – she would be perfect for the Federal government.

      2. Man, after reading that I appreciate the responsible way that Jim Weaver and his staff have handled the expansion of our athletic facilities even more than I did before. Why NC State would want to hire someone like Debbie Yow to run its athletic department is beyond me.

        1. I see your point and agree. However, there were others at UMD who could have vetoed, but they seemed to be enabling Yow. Hopefully NCSU has folks who can maintain control of the checkbook and make sure the school is getting value for money spent. I can only assume that Yow has some redeeming administrative skills that influenced the hire.

        1. Is it possible that VT fans can talk sports without splitting the fan base with politcal catcalls? Religion anybody?

  17. Has anyone asked the question why Maryland’s athletic budget was in such a poor state? I know that there are lots of schools struggling to make ends meet, but I thought these were not in the major conferences that get the lion’s share of the TV revenue.

    1. Maryland was funding 7 more sports than Tech….that’s how…along with heavy debt to fund stadium expansion and Comcast center.

  18. I suspect UMd will still be losing money in 10 yrs as they will spend more & more to catch up to the B1G, but continue to lag behind. (And that is if all of the money materializes.)

        1. Remember, Colorado was in the same position when the PAC gave them the lifeline. I know it’s still early, but….they still have no money a d no fans.

  19. OK, I read your article, and I get your point. Let’say keeping faith with tradition had been more importatnt to Loh, what was his alternative? Ask for more money from the alumni base? More money from the ACC conference? Cut out more programs? Another question that has always bothered me, if an athletic program lost money, and there have been many, who carried the debt? The state? Banks? Who fronted the money that was not returned? It seems to me that, as VTGreg stated, Tech has been fortunate to have good stewardship of funds, while competing well within the ACC.

    I realize that what I am going to say will sound mercenary or perhaps academically holier-than-thou, but, it seems to me that the University of Maryland has a president that feels that the the main purpose of its existence is not to field varsity athletic programs; particularly at a financial loss. If he had been a ‘good ole Terp’ would a better answer have been to keep piling up the debt? The nerve of that guy to find a way to keep the programs!

    1. I knew someone would overreact.

      The point of the article wasn’t to second-guess what Loh did (although it sure looked like it, I admit). It was to point out to fans that in today’s world, where the universities have to make ends meet, and other conferences are waving around huge dollars, a guy like Loh, with no background or appreciation of history or personal investment in the ACC, will indeed take the money and run … quickly.

      I don’t know what the answer is. I just think it’s a shame for Maryland fans, who for 60 years were embedded in the ACC culture, and who have SO much history there, to have it ripped from them and have to go to the Big Ten.

      Another point of the article was to make it very clear that the people who are making the decisions often do not know much about athletics and certainly don’t care. Fans often talk about “what makes sense” athletically, but that’s only a small part of the forces at work. And fans say that “academics don’t matter,” but they do. Loh saw the red ink on the bottom line, and Rankin got all gooshy about rubbing academic elbows. And off to the Big Ten they went.

      1. Mr. Stewart

        I don’t think I overreacted. Is it a shame to leave a conference like Maryland did after so many years? Of course it is. I followed Claiborne’s career from Tech to Colorado to Maryland. I get it. But, having taught in a university, I get another ‘it’. In the big tent of the university circus, and I chose that word carefully, intercollegiate sports is just not the biggest act. It’s not the purpose of the university. The university is, and please take my word for this, a business. So, what diffference did a guy like Loh’s ‘lack of athletic background’ make? Probably, for this period in time, it was a good thing. He did what any good CEO would do. Without emotion, he found a way out. I ask, was there another way out for Maryland? His move may have saved Maryland sports, period.

        1. Very true, all of it. Take VT for instance. It has about a billion dollar budget, of which athletics is roughly 1/16th. $60 million sounds like a lot, but in the context of the overall university budget, it’s just a small part.

      2. Hi Will. Good article, as always, but I think you are a little hard on the UMD Administation.

        Are Maryland fans really upset or are they happy that they can now forget about conference realignment, make more money, and still play football against big-name teams? I think Loh made a rational decision and had the backing of the most invested UMD people in the State, the Regents.

        As far as the open meeting laws and not talking to Swofford, that sounds like common practice. The ACC is the master of the surprise attack, I had assumed those meetings and discussions were always held in some kind of executive session.

        1. I think that all Maryland alumni and fans should be very “hard” on both their administration and athletic department for getting them into such a mess to begin with. It’s a textbook example of how NOT to run a major athletic department.

          1. Amazing story. I had no idea how low Maryland’s stock had fallen.

            Loh was the right man for the job at this point in time. He is clueless. During his tenure he sold the franchise for pennies and did nothing to enhance the franchises value. He does not understand football nor any other sport. He impoverished UM and took the moneys. He moved the university back a decade for a few bucks.

            I am amazed the big ten took the bait. Wow, talk about buying a clunker. I feel sorry for UM and disappointed int the big ten. Weigh the Louisville to Maryland on the scales of justice, economics, academics, dollars, etc. Who won?

            I hate the low road. Maryland — go forth and prosper.

  20. I have a hard time blaming Loh and the rest, even if they were outsiders who gave short shrift to ACC membership and tradition. The numbers are the numbers. Even canceling all the sports they did, that’s still an athletic department on the brink of collapse. Without a cash infusion, they would have to decimate the school athletically. And it’s not like UMD had a light at the end of the tunnel in their revenue sports that suggested things could get turned around, or that the ACC would be able to give them the money.

    The choice between staying in the ACC with a crippled athletic department or leaving the ACC and getting money is a difficult one. It’s entirely possible they’ll do more long term damage to the program by leaving the ACC, disengaging fans and destroying rivalries. Who knows if their football or basketball teams will ever be nationally known again. But it’s also possible that staying the ACC and dealing with the budget shortfalls could have done just as much damage. It’s impossible for us sitting here to say which is worse.

    From the VT/ACC perspective, I think we’re better off today than we were a month ago. I personally have little history with UMD beyond the DC media covering them far more than they deserved. Louisville is a much more solid program in both revenue sports, has more engaged fans, and is a much more exciting team for us to play in either sport. The ACC will keep the DC market with UVA/VT fans easily. As is, UMD was just another pathetic ACC team dragging down the conference reputation, and probably would be that way for the next 5-10 years.

    For the B1G, I still have no idea what they get. I hear everything about markets and conference footprint, but here in DC we get their network on just about all the cable stations already. And you have to think the dilution in brand and quality will hurt them more in the long run than getting limited access to the east coast through two relatively small fanbases. Eventually the contracts will have to reflect that no-one wants to watch Purdue play Rutgers. Not to mention continuing to slice the money two more ways.

    Every other expansion to date has been survival/desperation or poaching of quality teams, and it made sense, even if ruthless. This just seems strange to me.

    1. Provided that the ACC does indeed hold together, I definitely agree with you. I see trading Maryland for Louisville as a good trade for the ACC.

      1. Yeah, that’s the big caveat. If the ACC stays stable, we win out. I don’t think even the blue blood ACC schools will mind. UMD has ACC history, but it’s not a Carolina school.

        On the other hand, if they can get out of the exit fee, or this otherwise causes FSU and Clemson to start shopping around, then it could end very badly. That could easily be the bigger goal of taking them in the first place. If the ACC gets unstable or FSU/Clemson leave, then Delaney’s white whale of Notre Dame might be forced to the Big Ten.

        1. The bottom line is that if either Clemson or FSU bolt, the ACC is history. It will be every man for himself at that point. If I were John Swofford, I’d be working overtime to keep those two schools in the fold until I can get Notre Dame to come in for football too so that the ACC can renegotiate its TV deal.

          1. Why do so many think Clemson ……by itself is a desirable pick up? They have no value unless bundled with FSU and even then GT makes a lot more sense.

  21. Ideally, our next President will have ties to Virginia Tech. It would be nice if our next AD has ties at least to the ACC if not Virginia Tech. I hope our future head coach has, at the very least, east coast ties.

    It’s crazy that our President, Athletic Director and head football coach could all be retiring in the next 5 years. Gawd help VT if the BOV isn’t precise in its hiring. And as pointed out, I really, REALLY hope affirmative action doesn’t come into play. I want to hire someone who is strictly qualified to be President or AD based on their knowledge of the university, the conferences, the goals, etc. of the school.

    1. Wait… are you and others saying that Chinese Americans get preferential treatment due to Affirmative Action?

  22. I’ll add one more thing as a native Marylander and Terp fan until I stepped foot in Blacksburg. Do not underestimate the pain and turmoil the leadership experienced with the jettison of those non-rev sports. That experience was more painful than this leaving the ACC, in many ways.

    No other school in the ACC has had to make that decision, and it puts a different flavor on the entire affair, making folks realize how important the revenue side is to conference affiliation.

    Loh and Anderson knew what the ACC was offering, or what it could EVER offer. He didn’t need to take that phone call from Swofford. Don’t overemphasize that piece of news – they know/knew the stability of the ACC was suspect…to me THAT is the tidbit to take away from NOT taking Swofford’s call. Tea leaves?

  23. Wow. All very interesting. The fact that VT has people in power with a sense of VT’s history and that the athletic dept has been run so well for so long means that ensuring competitiveness and keeping within our geographical footprint can be important considerations when looking at expansion. Articles like this make me incredibly thankful for Jim Weaver and the job he has done as the AD.

  24. Not only does money matter. Diversity and political correctness are the “gods” of current society, liberals and certainly academic institutions. So, when hires are made on this basis, you can expect the Maryland outcome. Working in the federal government (and retiring 1/3/13), I have seen this with hundreds of hires in the past 10 years. Hope Tech doesn’t follow the same path as Maryland when it comes time to replace Weaver and Steger, but my gut tells me they will.

      1. Loh is Chinese, so he is claiming that was a major factor in his hiring (hence the diversity and pc comment).

        Experience tells a lot, but he’s painting this situation with a very broad brush without (most likely) not knowing the facts involved with Loh’s hiring.

      2. I think 134435Hokie is commenting on the fact that some of the major players at UM are not white men. I think it’s far more relevant that they don’t have a history with UM.

      3. I actually think he’s referring to the hiring of Debbie Yow. She made bad hires, bad investments and totally pissed off her coaches, department and alumni. Totally unqualified but was the pc hire. The “outcome” he refers to was the financial straits the MD got itself into and Loh chose path of least resistance.
        I don’t read any more to it than that.

    1. 134435 – as a younger Fed, I know your type…like folks similarly in your position, I’m glad you are retiring. Hey, ‘you started it’.

      Loh’s ethnicity has zippo to do with this. The confluence of UM’s leadership and coaching NOT being Maryland People was kind of a Terp Perfect Storm. And that includes the coaches, too. Zero history. It’s nothing more than that. Outside influence is what has led Maryland to better and newer heights academically. They’ve passed us in the rankings, overall, and have many programs perceived better than us…academically AND athletically. Admission standards are on par or tougher… One could say this is because of the ‘outside’ influence, starting with Kirwan. I fear VT stagnation at this point.

    2. No, I have to disagree. It is ALL about money. Loh’s job is two-fold: 1. Shake the money tree and 2. keep the hounds at bay that want to spend the money. Everything he does is about one or both of those two things. If he fails at either of those two things, he is a failure. If he saw a problem with finances and did nothing, then he should be fired. To me, it looks like he was successful in his job function. Maryland will have a seat at the table with the money flowing. Now, he has to keep the hounds (academics and athletics) at bay so that they don’t waste it faster than they can make it. At his age, as Will stated, he only has to make it last for a few years.

    3. How, on God’s green earth, did you manage to turn this into a liberal/conservative thing? Some people will find any opportunity to bring politics into a discussion whether or not it has any bearing on it or not. And, yes, we get your thinly veiled racial references.

    4. According to the article, Loh was more than qualified to be the president of UMD. The fact that you think his race had anything to do with it speaks way more about you than it does Maryland or “Liberals.”

  25. I know there are bottom feeders in the Big 10…but barring being competitive with the likes of Rutgers and Indiana…MD may not see a bowl in years..if they play Michigan, MIchigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and even Penn State regularly….look for 5-6+ losses annually to Big 10 opponents… I know it isn’t that simple but i can see them right now having chances against Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern and…that’s it… Things change. Programs improve and decline as we know but I can’t see MD doing much in the Big 10..they may get guaranteed money from the conference but if their money is mismanaged now….

      1. That’s one thing that gets me about this whole process. The Big Ten getting Maryland and Rutgers counts as a “win” and the ACC losing Maryland (thinking only about football, as I’ve been instructed to do many times) puts the conference on the brink of collapse?? In no sane universe should that be the case.

  26. Good article. The Hokie nation, alumni and others who love VT should make it know that we want to promote within when it is time for Steger to retire. I know that is another can of worms, but those that are in the know with our board, need to tell them it is not all about the money.

    1. You do not necessarily need to hire from within. In fact, if a university only hires from within, you run out of new ideas, new ways of doing things. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

      All of that said, when hiring from outside, a university needs to get a well rounded individual, not strictly a lifelong “Ivory Tower” administrator.

      What ever new president we have, he needs to know more about athletics than “they play some games on Saturday, I think”. I wouldn’t want an athletics centric president, but I would want a president who does understand athletics at the collegiate level.

  27. Great summary…and a sad one at that but we’ll all move on. Mentioning Weaver caused me to think about the Frank to UNC situation….Weaver made that mis judgement and has been a little different ever sense.

Comments are closed.