Big Ten to Look at Expansion! Is a 12th Team a Good Idea?

Hondo S. Carpenter

The Big Ten has suffered, some of it on it’s own and some because of not having a championship game. Not by choice according to sources familiar with the process, but by pressure from the schools, Commissioner Jim Delany acquiesced and the Big Ten moments ago released the following statement:





Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) discussed the future of the Big Ten Conference at its winter meetings on Dec. 6 in Park Ridge, Illinois. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.


Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in June of 1990 and its addition has been an unqualified success. In 1993, 1998 and 2003 the COP/C, in coordination with the commissioner’s office, reviewed the issue of conference structure and expansion. The COP/C believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.Â


The COP/C understands that speculation about the conference is ongoing. The COP/C has asked the conference office to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions. If and when such discussions become necessary the COP/C has instructed Commissioner James E. Delany to inform the Chair of the COP/C, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon, and then to notify the commissioner of the affected conference(s). Only after these notices have occurred will the Big Ten engage in formal expansion discussions with other institutions. This process will allow the Big Ten to evaluate options, while respecting peer conferences and their member institutions. No action by the COP/C is expected in the near term. No interim statements will be made by the Big Ten or the COP/C until after the COP/C receives the commissioner’s recommendations and the COP/C determines next steps, if any, in this area.




The league would like to move into the more lucrative northeast corridor. That is a move they tried with the addition of Penn State. Pittsburgh is the most notable choice early on, if Notre Dame once again rebuffs the league.


Millions of dollars could be added to the coffers of the league and thus spread to the teams with a Big Ten championship football game. Early speculation is that there would be East and West divisions. The concern among sources Spartan Nation spoke to today at PSU, UM and OSU is that if all three (perennial football powers) are logically placed in the East division, does that weaken the real potential of a “Championship” game. 


One source at PSU told me moments ago, “Does that make the OSU vs. UM game or the OSU vs. PSU or even the MSU vs. PSU game the defacto championship game? They can’t split UM and OSU because they play the last game. Would they play it two weeks in a row if they were in different divisions and going for the championship?”


When asked about the above scenario, a source at the Big Ten said, “Those are the issues that we will have to look at obviously.”


I think this is a good idea. Talking to people at the conference and around the Big Ten today, Pittsburgh seems to get the nod as a favorite.  Other schools being mentioned are Iowa State and Syracuse. One other name was Rutgers, simply because they can truly provide the New York/New Jersey market.


The selection is not just based on football and basketball. The new University would have to match in both educational commitments and other intangibles that the other eleven all have equal ground on.


Notre Dame would be a fit, but with a national TV contract for football, it would cost them money to join the Big Ten with their revenue sharing commitments. One source at Ohio State said, “I think we could make some type of accommodation until their deal with NBC is done. I wouldn’t hold my breath though.”


Stay tuned to Spartan Nation for the latest.