Rutgers becomes the 14th member of the Big Ten

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Rutgers becomes the 14th member of the Big Ten

As expected, Rutgers became the 14th member of the Big Ten on Tuesday afternoon, just one day after Maryland was added to the mainly mid-western conference.

Similarly to Maryland's move, Rutgers' change in conferences was highly based on financial decisions to lower costs and attain financial security, rather than paying top dollar to play their traditional rivals.

In part of other recent moves in conferences from other colleges around the country -- such as Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, etc. -- Big Ten commissioner James Delany was prepared to expand.

"What we saw happening around us, was most of the major conferences moving out of their historical boundaries, and we thought we needed to at least be aware of what the potential was," said Delany. "And as we looked around our neighborhood and out of our neighborhood, we recognized that Rutgers was not only a great institution, but was an institution that we had a lot in common with, and we wanted to reach out."

By leaving the Big East, Rutgers will avoid paying the hefty 24 million annual cost while also keeping the team relevant and away from a conference that's beginning to fall off the map.

In addition to the financial aspect of it all, the expansion will help the conference get greater recognition across the country. Being close to New York City, the Big Ten will have a much stronger pull in the nation's largest metropolitan area.

"This relationship is the perfect storm of relationships," added Rutgers' director of athletics Tim Pernetti. "Our job, starting today at Rutgers, will be to help create new value for the Big Ten conference. To bring new things to the party that's going to help further this conference as the greatest conference in college sports."

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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