Big Ten expansion push on fast track
According to a report in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, the Big Ten is looking to accelerate its timetable for potential expansion. Citing anonymous sources familiar with the process, multiple high-ranking Big Ten officials are meeting Sunday in Washington, D.C. to discuss the potential for expansion.
The impromptu meeting in the nation’s capital makes sense because the Association of American Universities is holding its semi-annual meeting in D.C. this week.
When Big Ten announced it would explore expansion last December, they conference said it would be a 12-18 month evaluation process. A decision could be coming much sooner and the league likely will be adding more than one school, according to a story by the Chicago Tribune.
The conference appears to be hoping to wrap the process up before July 1, which is the first day of the fiscal year for universities.
Rumors of who might join the league have fast and furious in the last four months and included Notre Dame, Texas, Pittsburgh and Rutgers along with other schools. It now appears that the Big Ten take on three or five schools to bring its total number to 14 or 16.
“I don’t think 16 is scaring anyone off, as long as you can find (five) that are a good enough fit,” a person who has been consulted during the exploratory phase told the paper. “They’re looking long-term, across the horizon. What gives them the best shot at keeping value at a high level?”
The Irish appear to be the top choice of the conference, but the school has backtracked from talk last month that they would consider giving up their football independence.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said last December that other conferences would be notified before negotiations began with their schools. That could create an public spectacle as the process unfolds and should create a major reshuffling in Division I athletics.