IOWA CITY — In a statement released to The Gazette two months ago, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said “the tectonic plates underlying conference affiliation are still warm” after Notre Dame agreed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference as a limited partner.
For the Big Ten, they’re apparently burning up. An ESPN report Saturday has the league engaged in heavy discussions with Maryland and possibly Rutgers as the Big Ten’s 13th and 14th members. ESPN reported the announcement could come as soon as Monday.
Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta acknowledged that he had heard the reports but said Saturday, “If there’s any news about expansion it will come from the conference office.”
The Big Ten began a wave of conference realignment in December 2009 when it announced it was actively seeking a 12th member. Six months into what Delany described as a 12-to-18 month process, Nebraska was invited and agreed to join the Big Ten in 2011.
Maryland and Rutgers were considered possible candidates in 2010 when the league initially expanded. Both schools could increase the league’s market value when it negotiates its tier-one television rights following the 2016 fiscal year. Maryland carries the Baltimore and Washington D.C. markets, while Rutgers is located about 30 miles outside of New York City.