Big Ten's Delany: Expansion on back burner
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Commissioner Jim Delany insists expansion remains on the Big Ten's back burner.
While the national landscape continues to change, Delany said his conference is "as happy as can be" with 12 members and is not looking to add. He didn't rule out future expansion, though.
"We're monitoring," Delany said Thursday at the conference's basketball media day. "That's all we're doing. We're not in the conversation. People can ask us if we're in the conversation, but I'm telling you we're not in the conversation. Everybody else in the country is in the conversation, but we're not. You can't make us in the conversation if we're not in the conversation."
Nebraska jumped from the Big 12 and started Big Ten play this year, allowing for two six-team divisions and a championship game in football, and it appears that will be it for a while.
Notre Dame is often linked to the Big Ten, although recent reports have the Fighting Irish possibly headed to the ACC with the Big East on shaky ground. Delany says he spoke to athletic director Jack Swarbrick a few months ago about hockey and other scheduling issues - not expansion.
"In the 1990s, we had active discussions with Notre Dame and that was that," Delany said. "We acknowledged it at the time, but we haven't since."
He said expansion didn't come up during the more recent conversations
"On the issue of expansion, no," Delany said. "And (I) have not for years, really."
He pointed out that Penn State and Nebraska, the two most recent additions, approached the Big Ten, and he kept coming back to the same theme, saying the league isn't looking to expand. Delany wouldn't say if any schools, including Notre Dame, have approached the conference, but he indicated a new member would have to be in for all sports.
"Hypothetical questions about West Virginia or Texas or Southern California or Notre Dame or Boston College, it's not in our interest to answer hypothetical questions," Delany said.
So for now, the Big Ten continues to sit back and observe.
"We know that you could make a case for expansion," Delany said. "But you don't expand because you could make a case for it. It would have to be a compelling case."
Does he think the Big Ten needs to add a team? "No," Delany said. "I don't know how we can be clearer about that."
Delany, who helped launch the Big Ten television network, also downplayed television's role, saying TV contracts and expansion are "a means to an end" and not "an end themselves."
"This is not Monopoly," he said. "This is not a game board, where people are collecting markets and territories and schools. Our goal from the beginning has been to have competition for teams and student-athletes against other universities that have the same feeling about how the enterprise ought to be conductive. There are some times when starting a network can benefit that. There are some times when certain kinds of expansion can benefit that. But it's not about how many schools or how many states or how many markets. Those are considerations any time you look at something, but for us, it's always been about how do you have the best set of competitive opportunities? How do you have people in agreement about how to approach college sports?"
Delany touched on several other subjects on several other subjects on Thursday.
- On the rule limiting conferences to two BCS berths: "I am one of those guys (against it). I don't know that it has to be unlimited, but as I look at the games that have been created, I've thought there were a number of cases where the Big 12, the SEC or the Big Ten has produced a third top 10 team that could be really attractive opponents and make those games better. I don't know that it happens every year or even in most years, but I've always thought that the bowl system would be better, the BCS would be better, if a conference could maybe on one occasion every four years put a team in, and I'd only do that on the basis of the matchups."
- On a football playoff: "I don't see that kind of thing in the near future."
- On preparations for the football title game in Indianapolis: "All the reports I got are that it's going really well."
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