Most Notre Dame fans are quick to brush off the notion they could soon be members of the Big 12.
In a January memo to the Big 12 expansion committee, obtained by The Oklahoman, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said that the only school the Big 12 is currently considering to add is Notre Dame. He said that the Irish would "enhance the Big 12 value for television."
While early reports from Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds were shot down by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, it is now much clearer why Dodds' name was ever brought up. The expansion committee consists of Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Kansas State president Kirk Shulz and Dodds.
As it currently stands, Notre Dame's television contract with NBC is set to expire in 2015. This is extremely attractive to the Big 12, as Neinas said,
"Both representatives of ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports indicated that Notre Dame's involvement with the Big 12 Conference would increase the value of the conference relative to future television and also improve the image of the conference nationwide.”
Television contracts are also a big deal to the Irish, and the Big 12 knows this. TV partners are very much in support of Notre Dame becoming a member of the Big 12. So while it may not happen right away, the Irish are on the radar from what Neinas says.
Notre Dame should take note though, as it appears more discussions than currently reported have gone on. The Big 12 has its eyes on the Irish, which could mean changes come 2015. Swarbrick may deny it, but it appears there is much more to the Notre Dame-Big 12 story than meets the eye. Will the Irish become the next members of the Big 12?
It may just be a matter of time.
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