Big Ten to increase league games

Updated: February 11, 2013, 7:11 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

The Big Ten will increase its conference schedule from eight games to nine or 10 soon after the additions of new members Maryland and Rutgers.

The league's athletic directors and football coaches met Monday in Park Ridge, Ill., and all future scheduling discussions will focus on models featuring nine or 10 league games, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com. There was "no support" for staying with the current eight-game league schedule model.

Delany said the new schedule format likely would go into place for the 2016 or 2017 season. Maryland and Rutgers will join the Big Ten for the 2014 season.

The Big Ten approved a nine-game conference schedule in August 2011 but went back to eight after forming a scheduling partnership with the Pac-12. With the partnership fell apart last summer, the Big Ten decided to maintain an eight-game league schedule.

"There's real recognition that we now live in two regions of the country, and we want to make sure those are bound together as best we can, so more games [makes sense]," Delany said. "Eight games is not on the table. It's nine or 10."

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who chairs the Big Ten's athletic director group, said there's a desire to make sure a football player doesn't go through his entire career without facing another league school. Delany hopes to have a resolution on the final number by late spring, and the athletic directors are scheduled to meet several times in the coming months.

"There's television considerations there when you have intriguing conference matchups that are better than some of our nonconference matchups, that's an important piece," Smith said.

Ohio State and several other Big Ten schools base their athletic budgets around having at least seven home football games per season. More conference games could decrease the number of home games, and Delany said if a 10-game schedule is implemented, there would be discussions about an "equalization process" with revenue, possibly through the Big Ten's next television agreement.

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