Jim Delany: Big Ten not 'active' in expansion but monitoring college landscape

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CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said his league is “constantly aware” of recent realignment developments sweeping college athletics.

“We continue to look at it, but we’re very comfortable with where we are,” Delany said at the Big Ten spring meetings. “There’s another reality that since we expanded to 12 and decided to not do 14 and not to do 16 and not to do 20, others continue to move and change. I think the tectonic plates underneath conference alignment are still hot.”

The Big Ten had 11 members for nearly 20 years until league officials announced in 2009 they were actively considering expansion. The league’s courting of a 12th member and eventual addition of Nebraska in June 2010 started a ripple effect leading to present or future changes in all 11 football subdivision conferences. The Pac-12, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences each accepted two new members. The Big 12 lost four members and added two others. The Big East has lost four members and accepted eight other football schools. Changes among the mid-major conferences are even more seismic.

The speculation continues today. Florida State’s board of trustees chairman Andy Haggard told Warchant.com on Saturday the school was open to discussions with the Big 12, a point reiterated by football coach Jimbo Fisher the same day to the Orlando Sentinel. Boise State officials had agreed to move their football program to the Big East in 2013 but reportedly are having second thoughts because of that league’s instability.

“What that tells me is the tectonic plates, there’s still fluidity,” Delany said. “Our position hasn’t changed. We’re very pleased with the 12 institutions we have.

“We’re not in an active mode, but for those years that we had Penn State (as an 11th member), we were monitoring it. We are monitoring it now. Anybody who doesn’t monitor the television environment every day in my job, anybody who doesn’t monitor the expansion issues every day in my job, anybody who doesn’t monitor every day the compliance issues that we have, isn’t doing their job. But to monitor is different than to be active.”

The expansion topic generated casual conversation among Big Ten administrators.

“Very, very little (discussion),” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “Just sort of acknowledging that it’s being talked about around the country still, but in terms of us getting hard into ‘Well, should we, shouldn’t we?’ It’s sort of, ‘Let’s just keep an eye on the landscape.’”

“At these meetings we really haven’t had much talk about expansion,” Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez said.

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