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Iowa Athletics Director supports 9th Big Ten football game
Mar. 1, 2011 7:36 pm
IOWA CITY - Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Tuesday he supports adding a ninth league football game to the annual Big Ten schedule.
"As the athletic director, I like it," Barta said. "It's something the fans want to see, and I think it's time to make that step. I'd love to see the rest of the country make that step as well so there's some competitive balance. I'm supportive of it, as is Kirk (Ferentz)."
The Big Ten has yet to set its league football schedules beyond the 2012 season. Barta said he and other league officials discussed the 2013 and 2014 schedules last week.
"We're still trying to figure out - if and when -we're going to go to nine games," Barta said. "That's still a discussion in the Big Ten. If we do go to nine games - it's feeling like we probably will - when will that be? It seems to me it will be beyond that point, simply because of all the contracts people are in but it hasn't been decided yet."
Iowa annually plays divisional foes Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Nebraska, and the Big Ten designated Purdue as its permanent cross-divisional rival. For the next two seasons Iowa plays Indiana and Penn State as cross-divisional, non-permanent opponents.
Barta was asked if he favored adding a second permanent rival, such as Wisconsin, into a nine-game schedule. Iowa and Wisconsin had played 72 of the last 74 years but are not scheduled to play in 2011 or 2012. Big Ten officials have indicated Wisconsin will rotate back on Iowa's schedule for at least a two-year period beginning 2013.
"I can only answer that by saying when we added Nebraska, we were each asked who we'd like to have included in our annual playing," Barta said. "At that time my goal was to get Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin on our annual calendar. We got two out of three of those, so that's the best I can do to answer that question. I don't know how it will shake out going forward."