NCAA BK

E-mail suggests Big Ten eyes Texas

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)

An e-mail sent by the president of Ohio State to the Big Ten's commissioner hints that the conference is pursuing Texas as part of its expansion plans.

Ohio State president Gordon Gee told Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in an April 20 e-mail that Gee had spoken with University of Texas president Bill Powers. In the e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, Gee writes that Powers would welcome a call to say they have a "Tech" problem.

It's not clear what that means, but Texas Tech is one of Texas' rivals in the Big 12 Conference.

In another e-mail, Gee told the Big Ten commissioner that the conference controls its own destiny, but must move swiftly. The e-mails were first reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio State said Friday it would not comment beyond what was in the e-mails, and that Gee was out of state and not available.

The conference got the attention of all college sports when it announced that it was considering adding to its current 11 members, a move that could lead to the expansion or demise of other leagues. The Big Ten's timetable for exploring expansion is said to reach into 2011.

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Delany said last month that gaining a foothold in the South and extending the reach of the league's lucrative television network were the two biggest factors as it decides whether to expand.

Texas would fit nicely into both those goals. The university's football and men's basketball teams are perennial national contenders and boast huge followings that would benefit the Big Ten Network.

The Big 12 wrapped up its spring meetings Friday in Kansas City, Mo. Commissioner Dan Beebe said steps were being taken to retain its members, but he did not say school presidents had provided a uniform commitment to stay in the league. Powers, the Texas president, did not appear at a news conference with Beebe as expected.

The Big Ten's network allows the conference to generate more than any other conference in the country. Some reports have said that Big Ten paid out around $22 million to each school in 2008.

Gee, a proponent of expansion, wrote in an e-mail to Delany on April 19 that the conference can't wait too long to make its plans.

"I am of the mind that we control our destiny at the moment, but the window will soon close on us. Agility and swiftness of foot is our friend," Gee wrote.

Delany responded within an hour: "We are fast tracking it but need to know the $ and observe contracts. Also need to make sure we leverage this to increase chance of hr additions."

Gee also asked Delany how he could help. Delany said he would call him to test some ideas.

The next day, Gee told Delany he had talked with the Texas president.

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