The addition of Maryland to the Big Ten allows the conference to expand its reach to the Atlantic Coast, add a university with a strong academic tradition and generate more money, Iowa president Sally Mason said.
Maryland will lure television viewers in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore markets, increasing revenue for the conference through the Big Ten Network.
“As you look at the demographics across the country — looking east, and in particular looking toward the East Coast, this extends the reach beyond Penn State — so we have contiguous states,” said Mason, chair of the Big Ten presidents and chancellors group that on Monday approved adding Maryland to the league.
“So we have the land mass from Nebraska all the way to the East Coast. That made sense to us.”
Mason, in her first public comments since Maryland was accepted into the Big Ten, said the appeal stretches beyond athletics.
Maryland, along with most other Big Ten schools, belongs to the Association of American Universities — a group of 62 leading research universities in the U.S. and Canada that collaborate on research planning, funding and education.
“Being able to incorporate a school the caliber of Maryland, a very, very highly ranked public university — they’re much like the universities which are a part of the Big Ten now,” Mason said. “We’re very excited about that.”
Mason said that dipping toes into bigger East Coast markets undoubtedly means more dollar signs for all universities through televised athletics and advertising.
“Absolutely,” she said.
Maryland’s president is Wallace Loh, who assumed that post in 2010 after working as provost at Iowa.
“I know one thing that was very, very appealing to Maryland — they also wanted to be considered for membership in CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation), the academic arm of Big Ten,” Mason said. “Wallace Loh is very familiar with that group … and the collaboration across Big Ten schools for even better offerings and programs.”
When asked about the addition of Rutgers, a move most expect to be announced by the Big Ten Tuesday, Mason paused.
“At this point, I don’t have a comment about Rutgers,” she said.