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LOCICERO: Latest conference alignment shake up just more writing on the wall for Marquette, Big East

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It appears now – if there was ever a doubt – that there are no “safe” teams when it comes to conference expansion and realignment.

With Maryland joining the Big Ten Monday for the 2014-15 season and Rutgers expected to do so today, Marquette fans have to wonder, yet again, what the future holds for the Golden Eagles and the Big East.

We’ve known for a long time, probably since West Virginia decided it wanted to move to the Big 12, that the Big East would eventually dissolve or become diluted in some fashion.

Rumors are now floating around about Louisville, Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati considering their options to move on. They probably have been considering it for some time.

Maryland was a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953. But an exit fee of $50 million won’t be enough to prevent the Terrapins from moving on from a conference they have been a part of for almost 60 years.

The school must have had some inkling that it was considering moving on, because it voted, along with Florida State, to keep the exit fee at $20 million in September.

Maryland’s move also has to be quite a shock for the ACC after it added Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the past year. What does this mean for the future of that conference?

As of press time, there was no information available on what Rutgers would be asked to pay as an exit fee from the Big East, but Notre Dame was required to pay just $5 million to leave in September.

If anyone needed any clarification on how much more powerful the ACC is than the Big East, look no further than that $50 million to $5 million disparity between the conferences’ exit fees.

Maryland regent Patricia Fiorestano said the school perceived the Big Ten’s future as “brighter” than the ACC. If the ACC’s future is bleak, what does that mean for the Big East?

Maryland had to cut funding from seven teams this season as a result of a massive budget deficit, according to CBS Sports. The Big Ten will renegotiate with the Big Ten Network in 2017, which should result in a healthier cut for the Terps than they got with the ACC.

“I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics,” University President Wallace Loh told The Diamondback, Maryland’s student newspaper. “No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk.”

If only Marquette student athletes, present and future, had that assurance from University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz or Director of Athletics Larry Williams.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said of Maryland’s departure, “Since the ACC’s inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference, and we are sorry to see them exit.” Unfortunately, Mr. Swofford, there is no place for loyalty in the cold world of conference realignment.

Another thing that doesn’t seem to matter any more is travel restrictions. Maryland, which will be the Big Ten’s most eastern school, is more than 1,200 miles from Nebraska, the school furthest west in the conference.

Rutgers is about 1,100 miles from Nebraska. Get ready for some long nights and a lot of time away from school, Terrapins and Scarlet Knights players.

To clarify exactly what this means for the remaining members of the Big East, Rutgers’ loss isn’t huge in terms of basketball.

The Scarlet Knights haven’t exactly blown the doors off their opponents in recent years, and they have never won a Big East championship since the conference’s inception in 1979.

But the latest conference realignment proves once again that schools that play football will forever get precedent on where they want to go when realignment talks come up again. If you play football, conferences are going to want you. If you don’t, good luck.

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