It was all in the plans, bringing Maryland to the Big Ten and then eventually gifting the program in the new, valuable television market with a tournament that it could host in its backyard.
That promise from the Big Ten was officially fulfilled on Tuesday afternoon when conference commissioner Jim Delany, flanked by Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson and head men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon, helped to announce that the 2017 Big Ten tournament would take place at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
“It says a lot because they said they were going to do it and now they came through,” Turgeon told Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday. “Mr. Delany came through so we knew there was a commitment to Indianapolis and Chicago for two more years but the first year that they had a chance to move, they come out to D.C. so that’s big.”
The Big Ten tournament, since it was first held in 1998, had never been played in a location other than Indianapolis or Chicago. With the announcement on Tuesday, it now means the 20th edition of the tournament will take place in what could be considered foreign--or at least unfamiliar--territory on the East Coast.
“You want to be able to trust people when they say something, so it’s big in our relationship and they obviously are proud to have Maryland be a part of their league,” Turgeon said. “They’re showing it by having the tournament out here.”
There has been a pushback since news of the announcement broke Monday, citing the obvious geographical concerns of the move. By moving out of the Midwest, the majority of the conference’s fanbases are forced to travel a greater distance to cater to the league’s newest assets.
Turgeon had a counter, which will likely be the common positive theme as conferences continue to move away from regional affiliations and closer to large conglomerates of valuable markets.
“It’s also good for the Big Ten to have the tournament out here for their fans to come out and see a great city in D.C.,” he said. “So it’s kind of a win-win for both of us.”