Conference expansion rapidly changed the national landscape in a hurry. While traditionalists weren't overly thrilled with all of the changes, especially considering the ulterior motives behind most of the decisions, the mass onset of conference expansion and realignment forced the hand of all power conferences in one way or another. Some conferences used realignment to improve considerably, look no further than the ACC bulking up it's slate of teams, while conferences like the Big East fell apart and the Big 12 was on the brink of destruction just a handful of years ago.
The Big Ten was relatively quiet in the initial wave of expansion, only adding the Cornhuskers to their conference in a move that was accepted by most of the league's fan base. While Nebraska's basketball team hasn't done much, like ever, the football team's tradition and success fit well with the Big Ten and was seen as adding a stronger team to a league that had struggled quite a bit as of late, even if it's rebounded recently nicely thanks to Urban Meyer and the two teams from Michigan. That being said, when it was announced that the Big Ten would add Maryland and Rutgers, people were angry.
Angry might be an understatement, especially when the move was considered unwarranted by many from a competitive level and seen as a pure money grab. While the football side of things hasn't exactly changed this opinion, especially with the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights crashing hard in 2015, the quick rise by Maryland's basketball program helped smooth things over a bit and has been seen as a nice addition on the basketball side of things, especially with Maryland set for a big season in 2015-16. That being said, the real winner is the remaining 12 teams in the Big Ten.
Money has always been the biggest factor behind college sports, instead of the actual athletics or even the academic side of things. While there's the obvious issue with that previous statement, the reality is each conference tends to focus on maximizing revenue and finding new ways to increase the money they can bring in. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers was nothing but a media move, with the additions allowing the Big Ten to penetrate the east coast market. The end result was the Big Ten could reach two very, very large media markets and increase their television revenue. Not only could their successful network increase the money it brought in, but it also allows the Big Ten to increase the money they can earn from their national broadcast rights when they sign a new contract in the near future (Fox is making a move to essentially take over the spot ESPN/ABC currently holds).
So how much money does each team stand to earn? Well according to reports, the combination of the Big Ten Network's increased reach and the new national broadcast rights contract coming up next year means each Big Ten team (outside of Maryland and Rutgers, who won't be fully eligible until the next decade) will apparently be set to earn over $40 million per year in television rights:
The Big Ten is set to sign a new deal for national broadcast rights next year, which, combined with continued growth at the Big Ten Network, is expected to establish annual payouts exceeding $40 million for each program.
While Rutgers isn't a full member of the Big Ten and won't earn all of the money the older twelve schools will earn, the money in television revenue will still have a huge effect on the university. Rutger's president, Robert L. Barchi, was pretty straight forward on the importance of the money being brought in from the move to the Big Ten. "Right now at Rutgers athletics is siphoning dollars away from the academic mission. That is why we have a plan to eradicate that imbalance. I am fully convinced that if we stay the course, that is what’s going to happen," Barchi stated.
Back in the spring, USA Today reported the finances of the public universities (so no Northwestern) for the 2013-14 season. If you break down the numbers, outside of Ohio State and Michigan, the remaining nine schools either had expenses surpassing revenue or had revenue less than $5 million higher than their expenses. Or in other words, most Big Ten schools still had budgets that were either in the red or barely breaking even. While a lot of that can be conveniently positioned by schools (as they tend to spend based on their revenue, increasing expenses as revenue does to stay relatively balanced), the money is a big driving factor in total revenue. In 2013-14 Purdue earned $71 million, Illinois brought in $80 million and Indiana $84 million. That means $40 million in television rights alone could easily represent about half of each schools total athletic revenue, a large amount of money all in all.
So while the conference's decision to expand again last year was an obvious money move and a way to increase the conference's reach, the reality is regardless of how good each addition ends up being, the other twelve programs will all greatly benefit from the move. That's before considering how well Maryland has been so far in men's basketball, more than making up for the lack of success on the football side of things. When everything is said and done, the latest additions have been a positive addition for the league and it's fight to stay atop the college landscape.