Maryland doesn't have a copy of its Big Ten contract

Patrick McDermott

The university couldn't answer an open records request because they don't have a copy of the deal. Intercollegiate athletics sure is weird.

The University of Maryland does not have a copy of its contract with the Big Ten, according to a story from the Washington Post. The Post filed an open records request to get information about the college's move to the Big Ten, at which point the school told them not only that they simply didn't have it, but that such practices were standard among major conference athletics.

The Big Ten, as a private organization, is not subject to open records laws, unlike the vast majority of its public institution membership. By holding the contracts, which apparently the ACC did with Maryland as well, those deals can't be obtained by open record requests. With the value of TV rights contracts exploding over the past decade, it's worrisome that those numbers simply aren't available to the public.

The Maryland Board of Regents came under heavy criticism for how they handled the school's move from the ACC to the Big Ten, which was deemed to be excessively hasty and secretive by many. The Board of Regents even admitted that they did not completely follow their own meeting procedures during the process, which has left the Maryland public with a deal they were not allowed to be a party to, and a contract that is not available for public review. Also, personally, the premise that a party to a significant contract such as this would not have a copy of the agreement is so utterly foreign to me that I'm having difficulty even accepting it as true.

However, not all parts of the contract are unknown. The Big Ten will reportedly subsidize Maryland's travel expenses to the tune of $20-$30 million, which could cover the Terps's increased travel costs for the better part of a decade. That's certainly good news for the Maryland athletic department, which has suffered from financial difficulties in recent years.

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