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Big 12 hints at possible alliance with ACC, others

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Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 6:24 p.m.
 

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said his league has no immediate plans for expansion, but a possible alliance with the ACC and two other unidentified conferences was discussed Monday when athletic directors met in Grapevine, Texas. The proposed alliance could include scheduling, marketing and television partnerships.

“It's a process of discovery that would provide some of the benefits of larger membership without actually adding members,” Bowlsby told the Austin (Texas) American Statesman.

An ACC spokesman declined comment, with discussions on the proposal only in the preliminary stage. ACC athletic directors will meet beginning Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten had announced the framework for a similar alliance more than a year ago, but the arrangement never materialized.

Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann said talk of alliances eventually could change how conferences view each other and clear a path toward four superconferences.

“It could be a precursor of what's to come,” McCann said. “We will see conferences aligning themselves more and more and viewing themselves less as rivals and more as partners in promoting college sports. It could be the first of several steps to get to four superconferences.

“It shows that big-time college sports is increasingly geared toward business pursuits.”

Meanwhile, one topic at the Big 12 meetings Monday concerned the pros and cons of expansion from a 10-school configuration to one that will allow a conference championship game.

But there doesn't appear to be much internal enthusiasm for expansion, with each Big 12 school receiving a $26.2 million share of outside income, the most among major conferences, according to Forbes Magazine.

“We don't have any plans to expand, but on the other hand, we don't want to be caught off-guard, either,” Bowlsby told Big12Sports.com. “If we make moves in the future or if we decide not to make moves in the future, we are doing it based on solid evidence.

“I've said publicly before that I think a period of no movement would be good for everybody involved, and I continue to believe that that's the case. I think the losers in this are some of the traditional rivalries and some of the associations that have been in place for a long time. This is a topic about which we ought to move slowly.”

Most Big 12 basketball coaches favor a 10-team league, with double round-robin scheduling. But West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he understands that football often gets what it wants, especially in regards to a championship game.

“Well, if football doesn't like (10 teams), we're probably going to expand,'' he said.

John Harris contributed to this story. Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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