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Home > Featured Articles > Impact of Big Ten, Pac-10 Conference Expansion on NCAA Basketball Unknown

Impact of Big Ten, Pac-10 Conference Expansion on NCAA Basketball Unknown

By: Kels Dayton

Hey ESPN’s Joe Schad, shut up. I get the fact that college football makes the money, fries the bacon, and combs the hairpiece in college sports.

Decisions are made based on football, and money, and little else, and basketball gets lost between the cracks in the seismic conference realignment that could become NCAApocalypse 2010.

But basketball isn’t water polo. There are millions of raving, hoops-crazy fans all over the nation, all of whom the NCAA were counting on when it negotiated that new $10.8 billion television deal with CBS and Turner sports. You won’t see tennis bringing in that kind of revenue.

Still, when these college presidents get together and discuss all the ways that they can A) Grab as much money as possible and B) Destroy the integrity of collegiate athletics, basketball is clearly an afterthought. And that’s more than a little depressing.

Think about Kansas, which is being treated like Snooki on the Jersey Shore. The Jayhawks are one of the most storied and successful basketball programs in the history of the sport. Yet neither of the potential superconferences seems to want them. The Pac-10 gobbled up Colorado, and is reportedly considering annexing Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State, all barely-above-average athletic programs from the Big XII, but it won’t take the Jayhawks.

The Big XII is falling apart all around Kansas, one of the most storied programs in college basketball. (AP Photo)

Why? Because KU’s football program isn’t quite as storied. It’s more like a comic book.

So Kansas won’t be given a life preserver when the Big XII goes under. Instead, it might end up in the Mountain West, becoming rivals with teams it would normally only see in the 1 vs. 8 game in the NCAA tournament. 

It’d be like the Yankees playing in a really good triple-A league. 

And then there’s the Big East, a basketball behemoth that might become extinct if the Big Ten completes its television-fueled Manifest Destiny. If you live on the East Coast, guard your remote. Because the Big Ten wants your TV. And it wants it now.

Adding an east coast market would be great for the conference’s television network, which generates as much as $25 million per year to Big Ten member schools. If conference commissioner Jim Delaney decides he wants Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Rutgers to join in on the greed, those schools would leave treadmarks saying goodbye to the Big East. 

The message is clear: Basketball holds about as much weight as the air that inflates one when it comes to decisions about conference affiliation.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only important thing that gets lost in all the football-driven money grabbing.

There’s also common sense.

Sure, Rutgers might like the idea of playing a conference game in front of 106,000 in Ann Arbor, but what about when their volleyball team misses a week of class to travel to Iowa City on a Tuesday in December?

And just how would an Oklahoma State-Washington baseball game work?

Why would a school like Nebraska eschew a century’s worth of tradition and bolt for the Big Ten, where it has no history?

None of it makes sense. But it makes dollars. And apparently, that’s all that matters.

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