The Journal-World has confirmed reports that Nebraska University is planning to leave the 15-year-old Big 12 for the 115-year-old Big Ten.
A source familiar with the situation said Nebraska would make a formal announcement this weekend, and multiple other reports indicate that such an announcement could come as early as Friday.
“It’s a done deal,” the source said.
The news comes after weeks of speculation regarding Nebraska’s interest in joining an expanded Big Ten because of the more lucrative television revenue made possible by the Big Ten Network.
Nebraska’s inclusion, which is not yet official, would bring the Big Ten’s membership to 12. The conference has expressed an interest in expanding to as many as 16 but, at the moment, is interested in staying at 12, according to the source. Notre Dame could change that scenario, if it expresses interest in joining, the source said.
The Cornhuskers likely will remain in the Big 12 for the next two years. The conference requires at least two years notice of a team’s intention to leave. Even with that, the penalty for opting out is 50 percent of the revenue earned during those two lame-duck years. According to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, if a school were to give less than two years’ notice, it could lose up to 90 percent of its revenue during the time it remains in the Big 12.
That, Beebe said, is just one of the things of which a school choosing to depart the Big 12 should be wary.
“It’s my view that any (institution) would be really risking a lot by going into another place where they’ll be outsiders for a long period of time,” Beebe said. “(They will) have to acclimate to a new and different culture and risk the chance that the success that they’ve gained will be dissipated over time. They’ll lose a lot more than they’ve gained.”
The loss of the Cornhuskers leaves the future of the Big 12 tenuous. But at least one person from Kansas University said Wednesday that he didn’t believe Nebraska bolting spelled the end for the Big 12.
“Our league’s not dead (if we lose Nebraska),” KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self said. “Not by any stretch.”
Self acknowledged that there are people with more authority than him in position to make the final decision. He also conceded that the tradition-rich KU basketball program had little say in the outcome.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with basketball,” he said. “Football is driving the buggy on this.”
KU football coach Turner Gill, who was a standout quarterback at Nebraska in the 1980s, deferred all comments to KU athletics director Lew Perkins. KU associate athletics director Jim Marchiony, speaking on behalf of the athletic department, said the university was operating on the basis that nothing had changed.
“As far as we’re concerned, it still is a rumor,” Marchiony said. “There’s no question that it’s still a rumor because there isn’t anyone who has heard anything official.”
Rumor or not, that doesn’t mean that officials at KU are not considering all potential outcomes.
“We’re working as hard as anyone,” Marchiony said. “I can tell you that. I know Lew’s been on the phone, but it’s still absolutely a rumor.”
If Nebraska’s departure becomes official, the focus shifts to the rest of the conference’s institutions, which have until Monday to declare their commitment to the Big 12. Nine votes are required to fold the conference, an act that would allow its members to go elsewhere without penalty.