Penn State AD says the Big Ten has more than money on its mind while exploring alliance with Pac-...

ByHeather Dinich ESPN logo
Saturday, August 21, 2021

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour on Saturday said "the Big Ten feels like it's in a really good place" as the conference explores an alliance with the ACC and Pac-12, but that it continues to pay attention to what brings value beyond money.

"I do think that there are conferences out there that could bring value from a monetary standpoint, particularly, speaking about our television contract and our television revenues," Barbour said. "... The Big Ten really prides itself on being more than just an athletics conference, in terms of our provosts get together, we share some library resources, some other academic resources."

Barbour said that 40% of the Association of American Universities -- a group of leading research schools -- lies within the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC conferences.

"I'm not trying to downplay the importance of value as it relates to upsizing our revenues -- that certainly is important -- but that's not the only reason," Barbour said. "And I think that there are some reasons around like-mindedness that would be very valuable to the conference."

After Texas and Oklahoma announced their intent to leave the Big 12 for the SEC last month, the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 formed an "alliance committee" that includes athletic directors from each conference, along with the three commissioners, to determine how they could work together moving forward.

Sources told ESPN they are expected to soon have a call, but there is still a lot of uncertainty within the group about what specifics an alliance would entail beyond the abstract academic commonalities. Scheduling will be a part of the discussion, but sources told ESPN the motivations and timetables of each league are different.

The discussions are taking place as the entire NCAA is in the midst of a self-evaluation regarding its structure and governance. Barbour is one of 23 members appointed to the NCAA's constitution committee.

She said they had their first virtual meeting Tuesday, as the group begins its task of proposing a new governance model.

"I don't think this is going to be nibbling at the edges," Barbour said. "I think it's going to be bold. I hope I don't have to retract that statement."

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