Nebraska appears to be getting close to leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten.
Multiple reports Wednesday indicated that the school was discussing a change of conference after weeks of reports that Big 12 schools were being targeted by the expansion-minded Pac-10 and Big Ten, with some websites saying the move has been approved.
FOX Sports Ohio said Nebraska was offered an invitation to join the Big Ten, citing a source.
The university’s Board of Regents on Wednesday evening amended the agenda for its previously scheduled Friday meeting to include a briefing from chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne on conference alignment. The regents could then vote to leave the Big 12.
Osborne said a decision has not been finalized, and he declined comment when asked whether the Big Ten had formally invited Nebraska to join the league.
A report on Orangebloods.com — a sports news website for the University of Texas — Wednesday afternoon said that the Nebraska board of regents has agreed to move to the Big Ten and a formal announcement is set for Friday, citing a source close to the board.
The Chicago Tribune also said Nebraska had been invited to join the Big Ten and will accept, citing "a source with knowledge of the expansion talks."
The university, however, issued a statement Wednesday night to counter the speculation that regents had already agreed to a move to the Big Ten.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reported late Wednesday that the newspaper talked to coaches from four sports and they all said the last meeting with Osborn was last Friday.
Regent chairman Bob Phares went further telling the Journal-Star, "No. 1, there’s been no vote by the board at all. No. 2, as I understand it, there are no invitations that are extended. You decide if you wish to make an application and then they react to your application.
“And I heard that there were reports that Tom Osborne had advised all of his staff that it was a done deal. You can talk to Tom and see what his comment is. I would be immensely surprised if that was the case, because as I said, there’s been no vote by the board and no formal decision.”
An executive from an unidentified Big 12 school told the Omaha World-Herald that he expects Nebraska to join the Big Ten as early as Friday but that nothing has been decided. That paper said nothing could be made official until after Friday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, Osborne confirmed on a regular radio show appearance this week that the school is considering its options.
“I think before too long — I don’t know exactly what that time frame is — we’ll be able to put this to bed, because I’m getting tired of it," Osborne told the Husker Sports Network.
“We certainly don’t have anything against anybody in the Big 12,” Osborne said. “This decision is not going to be based on animosity or petty jealousy. You’re talking about something that could maintain for the next 75 to 100 years."
Shawn Watson, the offensive coordinator for Nebraska’s football team, said Osborne hasn’t given the athletic department staff an indication which way the school will go despite an ESPN.com report that Osborne has informed staff members the school will be moving to the Big Ten.
Watson said Osborne met with the staff last Friday to tell them about last week’s Big 12 meetings and to "get a feel" for what the staff thinks about the Big 12 and Big Ten.
Since then, Watson said, Osborne hasn’t updated the staff on developments.
Earlier Wednesday, a Nebraska regent indicated that a move was far from a done deal, saying they "could absolutely wipe out" any decisions to change conference.
Either way, Nebraska officials seem anxious to bring the issue to a resolution.
"The conjecture and all the intensity surrounding it is not positive," Regent Jim McClurg said of the impending decision. "Everybody needs to know and has a right to know. The calamity and opportunity that’s conjured up by not knowing sometimes exceeds reality, so I think it’s important to get a decision done."
The Big 12 reportedly has given Nebraska and Missouri a Friday deadline to affirm their commitment to the league. The two schools are among the leading candidates should the Big Ten expand, while other Big 12 schools are rumored to be part of plans for the Pac-10 to expand.
The Big Ten has been the source of speculation since announcing its intentions to expand in December. At the time, conference officials said it was a 12-18 month timetable, but aggressive efforts by the Pac-10 — which is hoping to strip six teams out of the Big 12 — may encourage the Big Ten to move sooner.