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Sunday, June 6, 2010
Big Ten presidents talk expansion

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The Big Ten's presidents and chancellors met for about four and a half hours Sunday at league headquarters, and not surprisingly, they spent a "considerable" amount of time on expansion.

The big takeaway from this meeting: the Big Ten is paying attention to what's happening elsewhere and could (likely will) accelerate its timetable for expansion, originally set on Dec. 15 for 12-18 months. The league seems less committed to that time frame but reiterates that it remains diligent and thorough with the process and committed to the criteria it laid out nearly six months ago.

“Our announcement in December has caused institutions to consider their future and conferences to consider their future,” said Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon, the chair of the Big Ten’s council of presidents/chancellors. “That has had an impact on our deliberations. … We had targeted a timeline that was as long as 18 months. It’s possible that the timeline may be altered, but not the process.

“The actions of others are obviously important to us and they impact us, but the process is as we’ve outlined it.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany added: "There's also been a lot of activity in the last two weeks, as reported in a lot of media outlets. We don't know how that will all play out, but it could affect how we do things."

Is the Big Ten accelerating its process based on what's happening elsewhere? Looks like it. Delany said he didn't know of any Big 12 ultimatums to Nebraska and Missouri and didn't comment on any specific schools.

Another important lesson from today is that the league's presidents and chancellors can vote electronically on applicants to the league, so they don't necessarily need to convene as a group. Their next scheduled meeting doesn't take place until December.

The Big Ten ideally wants more time to go through its study, but the league is also prepared to move quickly. Delany said Sunday that the league began studying expansion months before putting out the statement Dec. 15, and has used the last six months wisely.

A few other key points: