Because their talks were private, we won’t know exactly the play-by-play – forgive the sports metaphor – that unfolded when the Big Ten and Maryland met last year.
Here’s one thing I did learn about the agreement to send Maryland into the Big Ten beginning next year: the school won a significant subsidy (in the range of $20 million to $30 million) to offset the anticipated higher travel costs of sending its teams to all those Midwest destinations. Here is the link to my story.
What to conclude from this? That Maryland believed it was negotiating from strength. To be truly successful, you have to know you can walk away from a negotiation. You need a backup plan.
Maryland knew it could have stayed in the ACC; there is plenty of history there, and the conference isn’t faltering. If schools depart the ACC, it’s not because they must – it’s because they receive tempting offers and make calculations about their future prospects.
I am going to make an educated guess that the Big Ten didn’t enter the talks prepared to offer Maryland a travel subsidy. Maryland came to the talks equipped with projections showing how its travel costs would spiral. Maryland’s current team travel budget is about $3 million, and it has estimated the amount would roughly double in the first year in the Big Ten.
So it seems Maryland made a request, and that request was granted. I know Maryland and the Big Ten are future partners and that their interests are now aligned. But you always wonder in a negotiation who was the suitor and who was being courted.