Delany: Big Ten ‘inactive but alert’ on expansion

The Big Ten’s guideline for conference expansion is ”inactive,

but alert.”

The league unexpectedly transformed the landscape of major

college sports again last month when it announced Rutgers and

Maryland would be joining. As usual with conference realignment,

the move triggered others and speculation more could be coming.

”I would describe our position as being inactive, but alert,”

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday after he appeared on

a panel with Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and

Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco. The discussion at the IMG

Intercollegiate Athletics Forum was sponsored by SportsBusiness

Journal.

”Monitoring the landscape is overused so we’re trying to figure

out what’s the most apt way to describe where we are,” Delany

said. ”One hundred percent moving toward integration of the 14

(members). With schedules, branding and divisional alignment.

”We assessed staying where we were, and thought there was some

risk to that long term,” he added. ”We also understand that

there’s risk when you expand because you could get brand

dilution.”

The Big Ten’s move tipped the dominoes that led to the Atlantic

Coast Conference turning to Louisville to replace Maryland.

Losing Rutgers and Louisville forced the Big East to add Tulane

as a member in all sports and East Carolina for just football, then

Conference USA had to make moves to replace those two schools.

Slive said the SEC doesn’t feel compelled to react to the Big

Ten’s latest expansion. He said he sensed that after Notre Dame

announced in September it was moving from the Big East to the ACC,

while keeping its football program independent, the shuffling would

stop.

”I think each of us have to understand what our own respective

needs are,” he said. ”I did think we were probably stable for a

while. My reaction was more that there’s not as much stability as I

thought there was.”

”We’re comfortable at 14, but I would never say never. That

doesn’t mean we’re active. If your foundation and philosophy is,

when leave I want the SEC to be better than when I came, and ensure

its financial future, its competitive future. Any thought about

going beyond 14 would relate to whether or not it would enhance

those two things.”

Aresco said the Big East is trying to stay prepared for

anything. The conference has undergone a massive overhaul in the

past two seasons and is trying to re-invent itself as a

coast-to-coast, 12-team football conference, with Boise State and

San Diego State entering next season. The Big East is also trying

to land a new television contract. The negotiations were stalled

when Rutgers and Louisville announced they were leaving. Aresco

said they have started up again.

”I’d like to see consolidation finally take hold so people can

begin to build on what they have,” he said.

”It’s not an enjoyable part of the job, dealing with

(realignment),” he added. ”In the end we have to go about our

business. We don’t know whether there will be a period, a long

period, of stability. No one knows.

”Uncertainty isn’t good. We decided we’re going to move

forward. If something happens down the road, you adjust. We think

the model is a viable model.”

The SEC doesn’t have a problem with stability. The conference

has been working on launching its own television network, similar

to what the Big Ten and Pac-12 have started.

Slive said he hopes the league will have an announcement about

the network in January.