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Friday, October 7, 2011
Jim Delany: Expansion not on tap

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Big Ten, which perhaps kicked off the latest realignment in college athletics, is standing pat.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reaffirmed his league's position Friday.

"We have what we want," Delany said after his appearance at a Nebraska booster luncheon. "My phone isn't ringing off the hook. People understand we're pretty serious about what we're saying."

Missouri, which wanted the spot Nebraska got when the Big Ten announced its expansion to 12 teams in 2010, announced this week that it is exploring whether to stay in the Big 12 or move to another league, possibly the Southeastern Conference.

Notre Dame is typically the first name that comes up when Big Ten expansion is mentioned. Several schools in the East also have been mentioned as possible fits, particularly with the Big East reeling.

Delany said the Big Ten is content to sit out this round of realignment, which will soon see Texas A&M move from the Big 12 to the SEC and Pittsburgh and Syracuse move from the Big East to Atlantic Coast Conference. TCU is considering breaking its commitment to join the Big East next year to instead join the Big 12.

The situation remains fluid with a number of other schools.

Delany said there's a perception that realignment is done willy nilly.

"I just think we have to make a compelling case for change," he said. "We don't look at it as something insignificant. We look at it as fundamental to who we are. There are a lot of fans who look at it differently than a conference commissioner might. They look at it more like a fantasy sports experience or Monopoly."

Even if a conference expands for the right reasons, Delany said, it can be a painful process.

"Whenever there is that much change and uncertainty, there are winners and there probably are going to be some losers," he said. "We always want institutions to feel good about where they are. The instability is hard. Not everybody will be hurt. Some will be hurt. Some conferences will be hurt and some conferences will get stronger."

Delany said expanding the Big Ten beyond 12 teams could negatively affect scheduling and relationships among the schools.

"Our objective is to have great competition, a great student-athlete experience, have institutions that understand each other and can collaborate and do things like the Big Ten Network, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation," he said. "For us, we always would need to make a compelling case for expansion. Not any case. A compelling case."

Some of Delany's other comments:

• On comparing BTN, the Big Ten's cable television network, with the new Longhorn Network deal between Texas and ESPN: "You can't compare a network with one institution that hasn't debuted -- maybe they have -- but has it hit their stride when one has been around for five years? A lot of networks have trouble getting up and going. The Yankees had trouble with that, we had some trouble in our first year. Starting a network is not a layup."

• On how much he would like to see a Big Ten team such as fourth-ranked Wisconsin end the SEC's five-year run of winning national championships in football: "We want to compete on the national level whether it's football, basketball or track and field. I tip my hat to the SEC for their success on the field. ... The amount of success they have had is almost unprecedented. Until someone beats them on the field, they deserve to have everybody's respect for what they've accomplished."