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Schools have inquired about joining Big Ten: Expansion gets discussed periodically
[May 16, 2009]

Schools have inquired about joining Big Ten: Expansion gets discussed periodically

IOWA CITY, May 16, 2009 (The Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said he's had schools inquire about possibly joining the Big Ten Conference. He won't say which ones. "I wouldn't comment on that," Delany said. "If they do, they do. If they don't, they don't. But certainly they didn't inquire to make an announcement." The Big Ten expanded to 11 schools in 1990 when Penn State joined the league. Notre Dame rejected an offer to join the Big Ten in 1999.

Speculation has swirled for years con cerning the Big Ten and potential expansion. The schools mentioned most often are Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers and Missouri.

Expansion would allow the league to become eligible for an annual football championship game, which often nets millions of dollars for conferences and their schools.

Recently, two Big Ten football coaches spoke favorably about league expansion. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno wants the league to expand because "we go into hiding for six weeks." "Everybody else is playing playoffs on television," Paterno told "You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that's a handicap.

"I've tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, 'Let's get a 12th team -- Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt -- we could have a little bit of a playoff.'" Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema, a former Iowa captain, also welcomed the idea of league expansion.

"It'd be great," Bielema told "Everybody would welcome a 12th team in the league and maybe having a championship game." As for Delany, he said the league does discuss expansion and it's a likely topic next week during the league's football coaches and athletics directors meetings. But it's unlikely the league will expand soon.

"It's a back-burner issue for a long time, but it's not to say that it doesn't get discussed,"Delany said. "It's just a back-burner discussion, because I don't know how else to say it other than periodically.

"We've spoken with two institutions, in one case Penn State, and it resulted in an expansion; another with Notre Dame and it did not result in an expansion. We haven't felt the need to move it off the back-burner since that time (1999), although it gets discussed -- the pros and cons internally -- from time to time." aEUR" For further discussion, go to; contact the writer: (319) 339-3169 or [email protected] To see more of The Gazette, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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