Here's who the Big Ten actually considered adding with Penn State back in the early 1990s
For example: Vanderbilt.
Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.
Two months ago, I started filing Open Records Requests for virtually every D-I athletic director’s contract, along with a slew of other contracts. I wrote about some of my takeaways earlier in March, but every time I read one of those contracts, I was struck by how expansive and complicated they were. Even at low majors, an AD contract is often more than ten pages. Surely it wasn’t always that way, right?
So I started reaching out to university archives, trying to find historical contracts and budgets to better understand exactly when, and how, college athletic departments expanded into the massive bureaucracies they are today. Some of that story will go into Book #2 (whenever that gets done), and some will become future newsletters.
But when I traded emails with librarians at Ohio State, they pointed out another folder they had in the archives they thought might interest me…one titled “BIG TEN EXPANSION AND REFORM COMMITTEES, 1990.” The box was full of presidential correspondence and notes from official Big Ten meetings, surrounding the league’s decision to add Penn State.
The memos discussed how to smooth over relationships with the league’s athletic directors, who mostly opposed the decision and were not involved. It discussed how to integrate Penn State financially, how to set up schedules, how to minimize travel…and not just whether they should expand to 12 teams, but who they should consider.
I don’t want to be so bold as to say these documents haven’t been published before. I’m sure they have. But there’s information here that I haven’t seen in any other books or read in any other interviews, so I imagine it might be new to many of you.
Let’s start with a memo detailing an official Big Ten Teleconference dated March 27, 1990:
Not a big surprise. 1990 was well before Notre Dame joined the ACC, and the school’s well-rounded athletic success, Big Ten-centric geographic, and elite academics made it a very strong fit, on paper, for what Big Ten presidents wanted. Of course, Notre Dame didn’t join the Big Ten in 1990. Or in 1999.
Who else did the league consider? Well…you can probably guess some of those names…but I bet you wouldn’t get all of them.
Like Texas, for example.
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