Issue Brief #3

Issue Briefs

Issue Brief 3: Maryland to Move to the Big Ten Conference (Nov. 19, 2012)

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The purpose of this issue brief is to emphasize the enormous benefits of joining the Big Ten Conference, establish consistent messaging for this move and help respond to questions and concerns from our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans.

On Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, the University of Maryland was approved by the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents to join the Big Ten Conference. Competition will begin in all sports in the 2014—15 academic year. The benefits of such a move are significant:

  • Academic and research opportunities for faculty and staff

  • Financial sustainability for the athletic department and equity in an international television network

  • Join a group of highly regarded institutions similar to UMD: public flagship research institutions

Here is how we are positioning this move to our public constituencies (via email from President Loh):
Today is a watershed moment for the University of Maryland.

I am pleased to announce that the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland has endorsed our application to join the Big Ten conference, starting in academic year 2014—15. The Council of Presidents of the Big Ten has approved our admission.

Membership in the Big Ten is in the strategic interest of the University of Maryland. It will ensure the financial vitality of Maryland Athletics for decades to come. It will enable us to reinstate some teams that were recently terminated due to budget deficits. We will have the capability to support better our student-athletes—in the classroom and on the field—and compete successfully at the highest levels.

Intercollegiate athletics is an integral part of our University. It must be aligned with our academic values and priorities. We will earmark some of the new resources to support our University-wide educational missions and help make college more affordable for our students. This represents nothing less than a new financial paradigm for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Maryland.

The Big Ten institutions comprise the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. The extensive opportunities in the CIC for collaborations with our peer AAU and flagship universities in education, research and innovation will boost the University of Maryland's ascendancy in academic excellence.

Since leaving the Southern Conference in 1953, we have been a proud founding member of the ACC. Our long history has led to spirited sports rivalries and left indelible memories. More recently, the ACC has expanded into the Midwest. But our early ACC traditions will remain forever a treasured part of the Terrapin story.

I understand that many devoted Terp fans may be stunned and disappointed at this news. I recognize and regret the sadness they may feel at our leaving the ACC. It is the passing of an era. To them, I ask only this: please understand that I am doing what I believe is best for the University of Maryland. I made this decision after due diligence and confidential consultation with some of our key stakeholders.

As president, my responsibility is to advance the good of the entire University—our academic excellence and financial well-being as well as the future of Maryland athletics. We are a premier land-grant and research university, situated in a vibrant metropolitan region next to our nation's capital. Our reach and impact today is national and international. Membership in the Big Ten and the CIC offers opportunities that match our strategic purposes. We cannot let pass these opportunities.

The 21st-century landscape of intercollegiate athletics is being transformed by demographics, technology and the economic realities of big-time sports. These forces are upending traditional boundaries. Change is difficult, but we are in front of these changes. As we begin a new chapter in our history, let us go forward together and create our future. We are all Terps. We are, proudly, the University of Maryland.

Thank you for your continuing support of the University of Maryland.

Media Spokespersons
The official university spokespeople for this issue are listed below. Please direct all media and alumni inquiries regarding this matter to Brian Ullmann for triage and response.

  • Brit Kirwan, Chancellor

  • Wallace D. Loh, President

  • Mary Ann Rankin, Provost

  • Kevin Anderson, Director of Athletics

  • Brian Ullmann, Assistant Vice President, University Marketing and Communications

  • Zach Bolno, Associate Athletics Director, Communications

Response Guidance

  • Communicate the positive key messages, as outlined above and below.

  • Due to sentimentality with the ACC, allow members of the Terp family to express their emotions. For some, feelings very similar to grief will emerge. Don't engage in debate, but listen and offer them your ear.

  • Don't engage those against the decision on social media or through media channels.

  • Encourage all stakeholders responding via your school or personal Facebook or Twitter channels to direct responses to the University channels: @UofMaryland on Twitter and UofMaryland Facebook. Report all inaccurate postings and news stories to Brian Ullmann.

Key Messages

  • Membership in the Big Ten is in the strategic interests of the University of Maryland.

  • Big Ten universities work together on nearly 50 collaborative academic initiatives including research, technology and access to world-class resources and programs.

  • UMD believes in the combined research strength within the Big Ten. We will achieve more through collaboration with similarly sized and scoped universities than any one university can achieve alone.

  • The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is a robust organization of Big Ten member institutions. Our affiliation with this group will further propel UMD's ascendancy in academic excellence.

  • Since leaving the Southern Conference in 1953, the University of Maryland has been a proud founding member of the ACC. This long history has led to spirited sports rivalries and left indelible memories. Our ACC tradition will forever remain a treasured part of the Terrapin story.

  • The financial sustainability of the athletic department was, of course, a consideration in this decision. Our move to the Big Ten will allow the athletic department to emerge from deficit immediately and be financially sustainable for decades to come. It will also allow the university to better support its faculty and students, because we will earmark some of the new resources to support university-wide academic programs.

  • Competition will begin for the 2014—15 academic year.

  • To secure the future of the University of Maryland in all of its dimensions—in academics, research, and finances, as well as in athletics—memberships in the Big Ten and the CIC are opportunities that we could not let pass.

Bridging Statements for Difficult Questions
  • Because of the complexity of the agreement with the Big Ten, I would hate to misspeak on this issue. Can I have someone get back to you with an answer to your question?

  • I want to ensure you get the information you are requesting. I suggest contacting Brian Ullmann, who is more familiar with the details, directly. Do you have his number?

  • Thank you. I respect your opinions on the agreement and want to make sure your thoughts are shared internally. Do you mind if I share your comments and contact information with members of the president's cabinet? And is it your desire to talk to an administrator directly?

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