NCAA Division I Conference Expansion To Start Soon?

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJune 10, 2010

Reports currently indicate that Nebraska will become the 12th member of the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is interested in Nebraska because it would make the conference's football component stronger. Adding Nebraska would also bring many enthusiastic Cornhuskers TV viewers to the Big Ten.

If Nebraska moved to the Big Ten, the Big 12 would likely dissolve. Six of the 11 remaining Big 12 teams would move to the Pac-10, giving the conference 16 teams. This would make the Pac-10 the first "mega-conference".

The six teams that would likely move to the Pac-10 are Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado (which has already accepted an invitation to move to the Pac-10), Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. These six teams would become part of one eight-team division in the newly formed Pac-16, along with Arizona and Arizona State.

The other eight teams would form another division, with the two division champions in football playing for the conference championship game, like what currently happens in the ACC, SEC, and the (would-be) extinct Big 12.

These championship games are a huge source of revenue for the conference, which is what expansion is all about.

The other four teams in the Big 12—Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and Missouri—would be the losers in this deal. They would have a couple options but no real control over what happens to them.

Option 1: Follow Nebraska to create a 16-team Big Ten . This would form another "mega-conference." This is a backup plan, as the Big Ten is rumored to be recruiting Rutgers, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and possibly Missouri.

Syracuse has a large TV market in New York, an area where the Big Ten currently has no team. Adding the Orangemen would give the Big Ten control over the biggest football and basketball TV market in one of the most populous states in the country.

Notre Dame has its own national TV network and is famous throughout the country for both its football and basketball programs. The Irishmen have, however, publicly stated that they intend to remain independent in football.

Option 2: Join the 12-team SEC to create a 16-team "mega-conference." The SEC is rumored to be leaning towards attempting to add four ACC teams; Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson, to solidify some large TV markets and strengthen the already strong football part of the conference, which brings in lucrative profits.

If the four ACC teams were to go to the SEC, the ACC would be left with eight teams. They would likely then look to the Big East to get the ACC back to at least 12 teams, maybe even 16. This would most likely happen after the other expansions because the ACC would need to react after the dominoes fall.

Money is the source of all this. It's the reason the conferences want to expand. Colorado has a already jumped ship to the Pac-10. The dominoes may have already started to fall. Assuming Nebraska leaves the Big 12, and the Big 12 does in fact dissolve, it would alter the composition of all sports in college athletics.