Gene Smith: Big Ten no longer pursuing further expansion
Published: Monday, September 27, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
The Big Ten is finished with expansion — for now.
In an exclusive interview with The Lantern earlier this month, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the conference would only consider adding schools that contacted the league, not vice versa.
"We're done with it," Smith said. "We're finished. The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. So, we're not going to go out and say we're thinking about expansion."
Although the Big Ten won't aggressively pursue potential additions, Smith said he expects other universities to seek inclusion into the conference.
"We think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences," he said. "But we're not actively out looking at expansion. After our October meetings, that's going to be the last we talk about it."
In October 2009, the league announced its intentions to explore expansion during a 12- to 18-month period. Nebraska left the Big 12 to join the Big Ten on June 12, 2010.
Smith said the league will continue to operate under its original timeline, and once details about scheduling and the conference-title game are hammered out in next week's meetings, expansion will be a topic of the past.
That is, unless another school wants in.
The right schools could add to the quality of the Big Ten Network, which Smith said has driven the conference's pursuit of expansion. According to a report by the Associated Press earlier this month, the network turned a 30 percent profit last year.
"The growth of the Big Ten Network was significantly faster than any of us projected," Smith said. "It's highly profitable, beyond what we thought at this particular time. We knew it was going to be successful. … But with that growth you have to sit back and say, ‘OK, how do we continue that growth? What things can we add to it?'"
With the advent of 3-D TV and incessant improvements being made to high-definition quality, the TV market has emerged as college football's most lucrative outlet. Smith said athletic directors and presidents are channeling their efforts toward maximizing TV's role in their respective conferences.
Adding a 12th team allowed the Big Ten to institute a conference championship game beginning next year, a national spectacle that should generate about $15 million to $20 million, Smith said.
"As television changes, and all the mediums change for communication, the conferences have to shift in order to maximize revenue opportunities off of them," Smith said. "When you get down to it, it's about more inventory, more games, so that you can provide the television carrier with more product."