Andy Geiger knows all about the benefits of leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten.
In the spring of 1994, Geiger resigned as the athletic director in College Park to take the same job at Ohio State, going from a program that was in financial distress to one that seemed to be printing money.
As much as Ohio State’s riches that helped fully fund 36 varsity sports at the time had to do with the passion of its fans, it also had to do with the support it received from the Big Ten.
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“The Big Ten is wired with the ability to change programs and grow things,” said Geiger, who earlier this year came out retirement to become the athletic director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
For that reason, Geiger believes that Maryland ending what will next year be an a 60-year association with the ACC should be embraced by Terps fans.
“It’s very good for Maryland and it’s very good for the Big Ten,” Geiger said. “Maryland will be afforded the kind of revenue stream it doesn’t have in the ACC. The Big Ten will now be in the Baltimore-Washington market with tens of thousands of its graduates.”
Geiger said moving to the Big Ten, particularly for football, is going to be challenging, not only for Maryland’s teams, but also for a fan base whose interest is typically directed to the pro teams on either side of College Park.
When it comes to filling Byrd Stadium when the Terps join the Big Ten in 2014, Geiger said that should not be a problem. But it will be interesting to see who is sitting in the seats.
“The Big Ten is probably the best travelling league in the country,” Geiger said. “It’s going to be a wakeup call for Maryland. If Maryland fans don’t buy the seats at Byrd, somebody else will be sitting in them.”
Geiger said Big Ten basketball should not be overlooked either, and that it doesn’t pale in comparison to the ACC in terms of its fan support.
“The Big Ten has bigger buildings with stronger fan bases,” Geiger said.
Looking ahead, Geiger said that “Maryland will be challenged, but it’s a challenge they need.”