Reports suggest that the ACC will move swiftly to fortify its ranks by pursuing Louisville and Connecticut, some of the last tasty morsels from a Big East carcass that was further stripped Tuesday by Rutgers' departure to the Big Ten.

Bilas suggested a merger with the remains of the Big East as another possibility but said the league must be cognizant of holding onto major media markets after losing its representative in the Baltimore-Washington area.

He and Williams both said the ACC must maintain its strength in basketball, the second most valuable college sport, and leverage that into keeping schools with at least solid football programs.

"I think the ACC will have to look at things a little differently because basketball is what made the ACC," Williams said. "I understand the football contracts and how the league feels about that, but the one thing that might happen is that they'll take a strong look at how they can maximize the basketball in the league, because it's still a great basketball league."

Maryland supporters note that for all the warm memories of basketball showdowns with North Carolina and Duke, the university's relationship with the ACC was not always cozy. Maryland officials often felt that the conference's power was too concentrated in North Carolina and that the university did not get the respect it was due for giving the ACC a foothold in the Baltimore-Washington television market.

"Maryland, although the most important school from a media impact perspective, was always an afterthought to a Carolina-dominated conference," Jaklitsch wrote in an e-mail. "Big Ten TV will revolutionize Maryland's reach and impact, will allow sports to be saved and will help with football recruiting and securing needed football facility improvement."

In reflecting on the move, Kirwan, who has spent most of his career in College Park but who also served as a Big Ten president at Ohio State, said the ACC as we know it was already gone. With expansion, Maryland no longer would have played annual home and away basketball games against Duke and North Carolina. Conference games against Syracuse and Pittsburgh would have felt just as foreign as the impending Big Ten contests against Indiana and Michigan State.

"People can continue to look back fondly," Kirwan said. "But that time is past, and it's not coming back."

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