Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Big Ten announced on Friday that despite all the whispers about 16-team superconferences, anyone expecting the Big Ten to make a seismic shift in the conference alignment landscape is probably going to be left waiting. As the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) noted in a statement, the conference is "not actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape."
That significant shift might be just the SEC swelling to 14-16 teams, but considering the usually staid nature of the conference when it comes to realignment, one or two defections down south might not be enough to get the ball rolling for Jim Delany and his member schools.
Here is the statement issued Friday, in full:
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) met recently to discuss reform issues and expansion. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.
In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.
The COP/C is aware that speculation about the possibility of expansion by the Big Ten Conference continues despite a statement from COP/C Chair and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on December 5, 2010, indicating that the COP/C believed the expansion process had reached its natural conclusion, that it was pleased with the addition of Nebraska, and that it looked forward to working with its new colleagues in the years ahead.
The conference has spent the past 14 months actively engaged in incorporating Nebraska, academically and athletically, into the fabric of the conference. "We're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We've said that we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members.”
This is a pretty unequivocal statement, provided the conference alignment landscape stays roughly the same. Whether the Texas A&M-to-SEC move (provided it actually happens) sets off a chain of more defections and additions -- or remains more isolated like the Nebraska and Colorado moves of 2010 -- will likely determine whether the Big Ten stays set at 12 or whether this statement will be rendered quaint by the new state of college athletics.
The message from Delany and his presidents/chancellors is clear, though -- the other conferences might force expansion, but the Big Ten won't be the first to go down that road.