Expansion Talks Expected To Get Underway At Big 10 Meetings

May 18th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

The discussion of Big-10 expansion will be at the forefront of the league meetings this week as the Universities will lay out various proposals both in favor and not in favor of additions.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez stated that the ultimate decision will come down to the presidents of the Universities as they weigh the options.  However he does not have the answers as to what exactly will be discussed.

“People want to know what’s going on, but nobody has any answers for them,” Alvarez said of the potential expansion. “None of us do, anyway.”

Expansion in the Big 10 has been under discussion for quite some time, as they would like to add a conference championship game to compete with the SEC, Big 12 and ACC as each of those conferences has an extra game on the schedule to boost ratings

“With the success of the Big Ten network and the position we’re in, I am sure that the powers that be will only add universities that bring value,” remarked Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez. “Anytime you add value to a league, you’re going to be better off.”

Rumors circulated last week and commissioner of the Big 10 Jim Delaney had to quell speculation that Notre Dame, Rutgers, Nebraska and Missouri had all been extended invitations to join the conference.

As the economy hits even universities, the Big 10 is appealing to those who may potentially be struggling financially.  Currently, schools in the Big 10 receive more money than any other conference from the league.

However, schools currently in the Big 10 do not want to forfeit any money if an expansion takes place.

In addition to money, geographic considerations must be taken into consideration.

“We’ve talked from 10,000 feet about the census 20 years ago and the rust belt population, the Big Ten population versus movement to the Sun Belt over the last 20 years,” remarked Iowa athletic director Gary Barta.

“More and more people have moved to the South,” he added. “The Big Ten still has the largest population base of alumni, but we want to make sure years from now, if that movement continues, we’re in position to say that.”

Michigan athletic director David Brandon sees additional variables that will come into play with an expansion.

“I’ve got to get student-athletes to and from competitions, and I’ve got to get them in class,” he said. “That’s one of the things that I really want to get an understanding of from a scheduling competition standpoint. In a world where we expand the geographic scope of the conference and just the number of places that we go, how will we make that happen in a way that’s affordable and consistent with our values?”

It has been since Ohio State captured the 2003 BCS title that the Big 10 has won a national championship.  Again heading into this year, the Big 10 is behind the SEC and Big 12 on USA Online Sportsbooks and odds for the 2011 BCS title.

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