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More Big 10 Expansion Talk – Does Basketball Matter?

2010 April 21
by Phil Miller

Following up on Brad’s post about Big 10 expansion plans, it looks like the football coaches in the Big XII have no idea what’s going on in Expando World.  At the least, they’re not tipping their hands.  From Dave Matter at the Columbia Daily Tribune:

Conference realignment is the biggest offseason plot line in college football. Coaches in the Big 12 are as curious as everyone else following the headlines — and fumbling in the dark for answers.

Matter goes on to mention some of the candidates being bandied about, including everybody’s favorite Notre Dame plus one that I mentioned in this TSE post that would make economic sense: Nebraska.  But Dave mentions another candidate that I haven’t heard mentioned: Kansas.

The Big Ten could expand to 14 or 16 members, and its wish list could also include Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska and Notre Dame, the longtime object of the league’s affection. Also, Big 12 member Colorado has been mentioned as a possible expansion target for the Pac-10 Conference.

When the Big 10 expansion talk first began, the focus was on the ability of the Big 10 to have a  championship game in football.  Kansas has an excellent men’s basketball program – a storied and successful program – but it does not have much football tradition nor does it have a large football fan base, probably owing at least in part to Lawrence’s proximity to Kansas City and the NFL’s Chiefs.

If KU did make the jump to the Big 10, they’d be as dominant in that conference in basketball as they have been in the Big XII.  But they’d be another Minnesota in football.

But the expansion talk isn’t just about football.  It’s also about enhancing the overall value of the Big 10 Network* and, on that point, you can’t  ignore KU’s ability to generate the benjamins.  In 2007-08, the KU athletic department generated over $86 million in revenue, more than Nebraska and Missouri, two other rumored expansion targets, and more than Oklahoma.  The $87 million placed them 11th in the NCAA overall and third in the Big XII behind Texas and Oklahoma State.  It would have placed them 4th in the Big 10 behind Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State.

The Expando World talk has been focused on football, but we shouldn’t ignore the basketball world.  Incremental moneys generated by having KU in your basketball conference spend just as well as incremental moneys generated by having it in your football conference.

*If you don’t click on any other link in this post, click on this link.  Frank the Tank has some excellent posts on expansion and this one is especially informative.

2 Responses
  1. Gopher86 permalink
    April 22, 2010

    The 2007-2008 year is a bit inflated. It includes revenue from the Orange Bowl and National Championship victories. The following year, I believe KU still had top 20 revenues, but they were slightly behind Nebraska.

    I think that Kansas holds a competitive advantage over Missouri, but not over Nebraska. Despite Missouri having a stronger football program at the moment, Kansas’ basketball name recognition makes up for the delta between the two football programs. Also, the Big Ten Network is already in St. Louis, and Kansas City is a KU town (71k alums vs. 23k for Mizzou). KU offers more national recognition, a more profitable athletic department and just as many (if not more) TV sets.

  2. Phil permalink
    April 22, 2010

    That’s an excellent point on the outstanding year that KU had in FB and MBB.

    Bringing Mizzou and KU in would bring the rest of the state of Missouri into the fold and would bring a more-or-less natural rivalry in.

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