The latest on conference realignment

Published: June 10 2010 | 10:27 am - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 2:35 am in
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Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, opposes the "mischief" that is conference realignment, but he's also not sure Congress should be involved.

Thursday, the Big 12 Conference continued to erode.

Multiple news outlets in Nebraska have reported that the University of Nebraska will apply for Big Ten Conference membership.

The Executive Committee of the Nebraska Board of Regents meets Friday at 1 p.m. at Varner Hall on the Nebraska campus. Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Athletic Director Tom Osborne are on the agenda to speak about a resolution regarding UNL athletic conference alignment.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday night that Nebraska will apply for Big Ten membership with a formal announcement expected Friday.

Thursday morning, the Boulder Daily Camera reported that the University of Colorado will accept an invitation to join the Pac-10 Conference.

That's two losses in two days for the Big 12. The Pac-10 has offers out to five more Big 12 schools -- Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

The dissolution of the Big 12 appears imminent.

That would leave Iowa State without a conference for its XX sports teams. It would also be without BCS status in football and would stand to lose millions if its forced to join a non-BCS conference.

Wednesday, Gov. Chet Culver pledged support to Iowa and Iowa State, saying the school's athletic directors (Iowa's Gary Barta and ISU's Jamie Pollard) "have my cell."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said his staff is looking into possible non-profit and anti-trust angles.

 Thursday, Harkin, an Iowa State graduate, addressed the topic during his weekly conference call with reporters.

“Well, while I am opposed to the kind of mischief that’s going on with the Big 10 and the Pacific conference," Harkin said, "I just don’t know if this is a proper place for Congress to get involved unless there is something dealing with anti-trust or something like that, like interstate commerce."

He didn't leave it at that.

“It’s interesting that those who are always going after the long arm of the federal government, that the federal government is too intrusive, the federal government is too big, now they are calling on the federal government to get involved in sports," he said.

He put the onus on fans.

“The most important thing is for public pressure, for the public to be involved," Harkin said. "The citizens of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma and all of the Big 12 all ought to get together and say we have a good Big 12 conference and we want to keep it that way.

“I’m hopeful that one of those states would not somehow see it to their slight economic advantage to leave the Big 12 to join the Big Ten, so the Big Ten becomes the Big 12 or Big 13 or Big 14 or something like that."

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