Notre Dame in the Big 12?
Don't shrug it off too quickly. It's been assumed the conference has looked into adding the Irish. Now there's proof.
In a January memo to the Big 12 expansion committee, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said Notre Dame is the only school the Big 12 could add that would “enhance the Big 12 value for television.”
The memo, obtained by The Oklahoman through an Open Records request, was sent to the committee as an agenda for a late January teleconference.
The expansion committee is made up of Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Kansas State president Kirk Shulz.
Here is a look at other items on the agenda and Neinas' responses:
If Notre Dame would become a partial member, how would that impact the current membership and what does it do to further expansion?
Neinas' response: “Both representatives of ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports indicated that Notre Dame's involvement with the Big 12 Conference would increase the value of the conference relative to future television and also improve the image of the conference nationwide.”
What value would a new member bring to the conference?
Neinas' response: “Our television partners agreed that the only new member that would enhance the Big 12 value for television was Notre Dame.”
What adjustments would be required to accommodate a new member?
Neinas' response: “Eleven members would require either an 8-game or 10-game schedule for football and there would have to be some type of an adjustment to accommodate basketball for both men and women.”
Would expansion lead to more long-term stability for the Big 12 Conference?
Neinas' response: “There is some sentiment that an increase in membership would enhance stability. It could be argued that the Grant of Rights agreement signed by the members is the most important instrument to assure conference stability.”
Neinas goes on in the memo to say he discussed expansion with ESPN president John Skipper, Fox Sports president Randy Freer and ESPN's head of college athletics operations Burke Magnus.
Neinas said all three agreed a 10-member conference was preferred, but they would live with expansion to 11 or 12 teams. He also said both TV partners were in support of Notre Dame becoming a partial member of the Big 12 if the Irish would play a specific number of football games at Big 12 venues.
Nenias referenced a December meeting of athletic directors who were spit on the idea of expansion. He wrote that if the conference were to expand, there was strong support for the University of Louisville to become the Big 12's 11th member.