The Big Ten statement on expansion

From the Big Ten office:


Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) discussed the future of the Big Ten Conference at its winter meetings on Dec. 6 in Park Ridge, Illinois. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.

Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in June of 1990 and its addition has been an unqualified success. In 1993, 1998 and 2003 the COP/C, in coordination with the commissioner’s office, reviewed the issue of conference structure and expansion. The COP/C believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.

The COP/C understands that speculation about the conference is ongoing. The COP/C has asked the conference office to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions. If and when such discussions become necessary the COP/C has  instructed Commissioner James E. Delany to inform the Chair of the COP/C, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon, and then to notify the commissioner of the affected conference(s). Only after these notices have occurred will the Big Ten engage in formal expansion discussions with other institutions. This process will allow the Big Ten to evaluate options, while respecting peer conferences and their member institutions. No action by the COP/C is expected in the near term. No interim statements will be made by the Big Ten or the COP/C until after the COP/C receives the commissioner’s recommendations and the COP/C determines next steps, if any, in this area.


  1. For me its always been ND as the 12th team and nobody else, but it looks like it will be somebody else.

    I can’t fathom the thought of UL or UK. Although I don’t think UK would want to expose their bball team to a B10 schedule anyway.

    Cincy only has 14 varsity men’s and women’s sports. We have 22, Michigan has 25.

    Rutgers? Why?

    Pitt? Maybe best choice. Actually closer than PSU, but they only have 17 varsity sports, even NU has 19. Their admission standards are higher than ours, judging by SAT scores.

    Missouri? I don’t know why, but I’ve never seen them as a good fit. Don’t know why I feel that way because geographically they fit really well. They have 18 varsity sports. Comparable SAT scores of incoming frosh to us. They could save lots of travel costs switching to the B10, so maybe they would want to.

    Iowa State? Why?

    West Virginia? Probably not. 16 sports. OK geography considering we already have PSU. Low admission standards.

    Marquette has no football and very few sports.

    A MAC school? I don’t know. Is one ready for the leap? CMU has 20k students, but only 14 sports. Could be a death blow to any MAC school that makes the leap.

    Who else is out there?

  2. This is one of my favorite topics for idle speculation. Four candidates seem logical to me in terms of geography, philosophy and academic and athletic strength:


    All meet the requirement of being contiguous with existing Big Ten state(s). All are good academic institutions that also excel in athletics. And all would have natural rivals, with Missouri and Illinois already being border state rivals. Syracuse, while it seems the least geographically sensible, actually shares 2 borders with 2 Big Ten states: land with PA and water (Lake Erie) with MI. Pitt would be an obvious regional rival for PSU and OSU. Nebraska would have a cluster of nearby opponents in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    All of these make sense to me, for what that’s worth. Let the speculation run wild!

  3. Pitt is the odds on choice. They bring both solid football and basketball programs with lots of stability. it would be a good move for them to make sure pitt becomes a destination job instead of springboard to a bigger job similar to what happened in cinci.

    Notre Dame… screw them they are too good for the Big Ten and frankly i dont think they are a top notch program like they used to be. the big ten is kocked through the country as being down and ND doesnt bring instant credibility.

    Cinci wouldnt be all that bad but i dont think the other big ten schools would want them from an academic prospective.

    if i were betting on who the 12th team i would take the odds on Mizzou. at first you would say they wouldnt leave the big 12, but they have gotten screwed in bowl payouts the last few years. coach gary pinkel has good recruiting ties back to his days in toledo, and they have a rival in illinois. their vacant spot in the big 12 could be replaced by TCU or UTAH. i am telling everyone this is the dark horse i think will end up making the switch.

  4. GFDave’
    Precisely stated. Geography makes finding the proper addition near impossible when eliminating ND or excluding Pitt. I wish it could be a MAC. But like you I would not like to choose the school to climb so vertical a grade so fast. Might be easier to include the whole Mac conference.

  5. 1. Notre Dame (if they want it is their spot)
    2. Pitt
    3 Mizzou
    4. Iowa State
    5. Louisville
    6. Central Michigan
    7. Western Michigan
    8. Eastern Michigan
    9. Southern Michigan
    10. Northern Michigan

  6. Eric, you are right. Nebraska and Syracuse are fun to consider:

    Like you said, both have good academics. Nebraska has 21 sports, Syracuse has 20.

    I disagree a little about geography. I think both are a bit of a stretch. Syracuse is 1100 miles from Minneapolis. Lincoln is almost that far to State College.

    Those are really far distances to go for a Tuesday night basketball game.

    I also think that neither NE or SU would find a rival.

    PSU has been around for a long time and I’ll tell you that the Staters I know don’t get fired up about anybody in the B10. They’re actually a little lost in that area. Having Pitt join would alleviate the rivalry issue for PSU big time.

  7. What possible reason could you have for wanting a MAC school rather than a candidate from a major conference?? Missouri and Pitt are the best candidates; Syracuse and Nebraska next; then maybe Louisville, Cincinnati or West Virginia. I’d even put Rutgers ahead of a MAC school.

    How can you not see the geographic fit of Pitt, Missouri or Nebraska?? Syracuse I can accept how you can see that as a geographic stretch, even though they’re closer to the Michigan schools and PSU than the current western members, particularly Minnesota. But to not see the fit of the other three I mention indicates that you haven’t busted out the Rand-McNally in quite a while.

  8. Pitt would be my choice. Just as GFDave points out they would be a natural rival for PSU. I don’t know how many on the prospective list are members of the Association of American Universities, that would probably disqualify a few schools.

  9. Dave, sorry, my previous post came out a bit more caustic than I intended. It was supposed to be funny. As to the distance between Nebraska and Syracuse and current members:

    Nebraska would be close (relatively speaking) to Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, who currently aren’t close to the eastern half of the conference. So that would be an improvement in that it would establish a western group of 4.

    Syracuse is a bit more of a stretch, but I think they’d be similar to Pitt in that they’d be a rival for PSU, and a shorter road trip than Minny for the Michigan schools, PSU and OSU. When you’re talking this many states, some of them fairly large, you’re going to have some long trips no matter what.

    All of that said, I think Pitt and Missouri are the most logical candidates.

  10. First, I’m surprised by the tone of the reply. I wasn’t wanting to argue but to just throw stuff out there. Idle banter.

    Second, I didn’t say I wanted a MAC school. I was just throwing it out there along with other possibilities that popped into my head.

    Third, in my original post I did note the geographic fit of Pitt and Missouri.

    Fourth, I busted out my MapQuest and calculated the distance between the farthest teams you mentioned (SU and NE) from the B10 school that’s farthest away from them. All the teams will be playing, not just the ones 200 miles apart.


  11. We’re cool. You have a good point about the western half of the league. Both NE and Mizzou would address that.

    I’m thinking PSU is a heavy lean towards Pitt. It would revive the days when that game was the unofficial championship of eastern football.

  12. Wouldn’t blame a Big East school from wanting to escape the basketball gauntlet and the not so well regarded football conference alignment.
    Missou is my personal choice since I live in St. Louis and it would allow the opportunity to see IU once a year in Columbia. Plus it would really fire up some inter-office rivalries with all the Illinois/Missou/IU grads in the area.

  13. Dont you think if the B10 added pitt it would shift dramatically a dominance to the eastern part of the conference? I would rather do North and South.
    3.Mich St
    1.Pitt or Mizzou
    4.Ohio St
    5.Penn St
    Then you would have the SEC senario where you would play your rival from the other division every year. IE BAMA vs TENN and FL vs LSU

  14. Pitt would be my ideal choice, everything considered. What I would like most is a school from a state on the Great Lakes. The Lakes are a sort of central geographical feature that holds the conference (Iowa excepted) together. Sure, that holds down on some of the possible choices, but it’s just my weird little preference.

    That leaves New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as home states from which to choose a school in my world.

  15. Dave, my bad, that post came out wrong. Sometimes they’re funnier in my head than on the screen. But enough of that.

    My thought was that with the conference already extending east-to-west between State College and Minneapolis, the overall geographics of it wouldn’t be compromised. And all of these candidates would be close to some members of the conference that currently are a little distant from the others, particularly PSU and Minnesota.

    How about divisions? I can see Missouri/Nebraska in with Minny, Wisky, Iowa, NW and Illinois for a western division. Or, Pitt in with PSU, OSU, IU, Purdue and Illinois; or with PSU, OSU, the Michigans and NW in a division. That would leave IU, Purdue and Illinois in with the western members. Or finally,Syracuse in a ‘Great Lakes’ division with the Michigans, NW, Wisconsin and Minny. That would leave PSU, OSU, IU, PU, Illness and Iowa in the other.

    Isn’t speculation great fun to fuel???

  16. Chris, I live in Nashville, and have made that very point on this subject. You could have permanent rivals even if rivals were in opposite divisions (like OSU-Michigan, IU-Purdue, etc) like the SEC does it. Tennessee fans dislike Alabama more than anyone else, and they play every year, preserving the ‘third Saturday in October’ tradition fans of both schools so much look forward to. And the appeal of rivals like that playing again in the title game is not hard to understand.

  17. yea eric i live in huntsville and am new to the whole SEC thing, but they are light years ahead of the B10. people panic if you dont get rivals in divisions but it doesnt have to be that way! the big ten is on the right track but this move could be a giant disaster if the right school isnt picked. if its not Pitt or Mizzou then they are crazy!

  18. Not having paid much attention to the SEC, it never dawned on me that’s what they did. Very workable for us too.

    So far from this discussion I see two primary scenarios (with a half life of about 1 nanosecond each):

    1. Add Missouri. Go east/west. Mizz, Iowa, Minn, NU, Illinois and Wisc in the west. IU, PU, MU, MSU, OSU and PSU in the east. Principle driving the decision: balancing the western half of league.

    2. Add Pitt. Go north/south. Divisions as Chris in Bama describes. Principle driving the decision: PSU’s desire to add Pitt as a rival.

    If Nebraska is added, scenario one holds. If Syracuse is added, maybe go east/west with Purdue going to the western half.

  19. I know a MAC school is not a popular choice (with the feeling it might further reduce the conference’s credibility).

    However, there is recent precedent for jumping a weaker school to a big conference: South Florida. The Bulls started a 1-AA football program 12 years ago, moved to CUSA in ’01 and then made the big jump to the Big East in ’05. USF has had a basketball team for awhile, but is the only Big East member to never qualify for the Final Four.
    There were some factors in play that helped USF with the move (playing football in an NFL stadium, for one).

    Is there a team from the CUSA, MVC or MAC that mirrors USF. That’s the question. If the Big Ten is thinking long term, it could seek out teams that have a developed sports program with a weak football team (an FCS program, for example) and could begin to groom those schools for introduction to the B10 in a long-term project. Schools like Western Illinois, Missouri State, Kent State, Central Michigan, etc.

    Again, I realize jumping a school like that might hurt the credibility of the B10…but those schools would be more than willing to make the jump with a definite recruiting bump by just joining a bigger conference (just as USF got a recruiting bump by moving to Big East).

  20. GFDave, your last post hits the nail on the head. Very workable scenarios in terms of divisions and strong candidates for membership. A method for preserving traditional rivals across divisions is in place in the SEC. All of the candidates would bring athletic and academic strength. I don’t see a negative.

    I noticed that in the Chicago Tribune online poll yesterday, 84% of respondents said ‘yes’ to whether the Big Ten should add a 12th member. So perhaps some of what is driving this is fan interest.

  21. The Big 10 has done this before. Nothing much has changed EXCEPT Notre Dame can not hold on to it’s solo national TV deal because it is never in the top 25 at the end of the year. Notre Dame is the right fit. Pittsburgh is a good fit. Rutgers is interesting. No one wants to go to Syracuse! Missouri, Louisville, Cincinnati, Iowa State add nothing. If all you get is a $5 million football game each existing school will LOSE MONEY-1/11 versus 1/12 of the pie, if $100 million now for 11 schools = $9,090,909 versus $105 million for 12 schools = $8,750,000. How about Maryland in the Baltimore-DC market, or Miami in the FL market, or GA Tech in Atlanta, or SMU in Dallas, or Colorado in the Rockies? The whole point is to expand the BRAND and raise the profits from the Big Ten Network so the PIE grows! What if the presidents say “OK” but no other good school says “yes”? The Big Ten looks like chump change. There is more risk here than is obvious. In this kind of a deal you do not want “transparency” you want a solid private commitment and a one year or less time frame, so that the commitment does not unravel. I thought that all of the academic presidents had been replaced by smooth political operatives? This is politically naive.

  22. Beatpurdue, you make good points, and I am inclined to see things your way to some degree. However, the Big Ten has a bylaw that any expansion has to involve a school in a state that border current Big Ten state(s), so that eliminates SMU, Ga Tech, SMU, Miami, etc. And I’d rather make the trip to Syracuse than a much longer trip to any of those schools.

    As for financial benefit, well, some members of the SEC objected strongly to expansion and a championship game in football, and it’s developed into a major cash cow for them.

    I disagree with you about Missouri. They’re one of Illinois’ biggest rivals (like IU v. UK), so that’s a natural. Plus they’re geographically close (in relative terms) to Illness, Iowa, Minn, Wisc, NW, Purdue and IU. And it’s a good academic school. And it would make the Big Ten the preeminent conference in the St. Louis metro area, which is bigger than Indy. I’d rate all of those as positives, and as such think Missouri and Pitt are the best fits.

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