Big Ten officials say there are no current plans for conference expansion

Published 11:29 pm Saturday, August 20, 2011

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AP) — The Big Ten Conference is not looking at another expansion — for now.

The 12-team league said Friday that its Council of Presidents/Chancellors met recently and there is no plan to “actively” engage in expansion now “or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.”

Of course, there is that possibility. Texas A&M confirmed this week that it is interested in leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference — a move that would almost surely set off another round of conference realignment.

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The SEC, which has won the last five BCS championships in football, on Sunday reaffirmed its 12-school membership while leaving the door open to expansion. Earlier this week, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said has been in contact with Dan Beebe, his counterpart at the Big 12, and John Swofford of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Big Ten made the announcement as Nebraska prepares to play its first season since joining the league from the Big 12 in July.

The Big 12, which also lost Colorado to the Pac-12, has said it wants to keep Texas A&M, but if the Aggies leave it would “aggressively move forward to explore expansion,” presumably by adding one or three schools if possible.

Last December, Big Ten Council Chairman Michael McRobbie, the Indiana president, said the board “believed the expansion process had reached its natural conclusion.

“We’re about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Friday. “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.”