Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Updated: February 28, 8:17 AM ET
Texas isn't talking to Big Ten
AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of Texas likes its position in the Big 12 Conference and has not talked with the Big Ten about its expansion plans, athletic director DeLoss Dodds said Wednesday.
Dodds spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday after recent speculation that the Longhorns program could be courted by the Big Ten, which is considering expanding.
Dodds said Texas would be a natural target for any league because of the school's strong academics, athletics and the power to draw a large television audience. But Texas and the Big 12 are good for each other, Dodds said, adding "It's working. I like it."
The Big Ten announced in December it would explore options for expansion to add a 12th school. The Big Ten also looked at expansion in 1993, 1998 and 2003. Penn State was the last team to join in 1990, and Notre Dame rejected an offer in 1999.
Earlier this month, speculation on possible targets focused on Texas, which has one of the wealthiest athletic programs in the country and is a major research university with a huge alumni base surrounded by some of the larger television markets in the nation.
"We're always going to be looked at. I don't think that's a bad thing. That's a good thing," Dodds said.
He said there have been no talks between the Texas and the Big Ten. He said the Big 12 has been a good fit for the Longhorns since the conference started in 1996 with the members of the old Big Eight and four members of the old Southwest Conference.
"I think it's been a great conference for us and we've been good for the conference. Before the [Big 12], we were struggling with recruiting and struggling with all kinds of things. The Big 12 has brought us stability, kept Texas kids in Texas," he said.
"All the sports have been good to us. We've built up some good rivalries. It's been good for us," Dodds said.
Even if another school were to leave the Big 12, Dodds said he believes the remaining members would try to keep the conference intact by finding a replacement instead of seeing a domino effect of schools bolting for other leagues.
"I don't know who that would be," Dodds said.
If the league has a problem, it's that the Big 12 is not as old as the Big Ten or the Southeastern Conference, Dodds said.
"People around the country kind of pick on us because we don't have 'tradition.' I don't think we need that. I think we're pretty darn good. You don't have to be 100 years old to be good," Dodds said.
The Big 12 does not have the lucrative TV deals the Big Ten and SEC do, but its day will come, Dodds said. The league's contracts with ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports Net will be up for renewal in 2015.
"That's the year we've got the leverage," Dodds said. "It will be the Big 12's turn."