Sources: Nebraska move likely

Updated: June 10, 2010, 6:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

All signs are pointing to a Nebraska move to the Big Ten.

A source close to the Nebraska program told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that athletic director Tom Osborne informed some staff members within the past 24 hours the Cornhuskers were going to make the move to the Big Ten conference.

A source with knowledge of the Big Ten's plans confirmed to ESPN.com that Nebraska will join the Big Ten by the end of the week or early next week. The source said the formal process of accepting a candidate either has started or would be under way shortly, as Nebraska must formally apply for admission to the Big Ten.

"It's going to happen, unless something crazy happens in the final hours," the source said. "I think by this weekend, it's going to be wrapped up."

Big Ten bylaws state any applicant to the league must receive at least eight votes from the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors to gain admission.

Besides Nebraska, no other candidates are imminent for the Big Ten, which could stay put with 12 members, the source said.

A source close to the Nebraska Board of Regents told Orangebloods.com the regents met informally Wednesday and have agreed to move to the Big Ten and that a formal announcement Nebraska is leaving will come Friday -- the deadline set by the Big 12 for Nebraska and Missouri to state whether they intend to leave the conference.

A Big 12 football coach, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Wednesday night that if Nebraska left the Big 12, the conference would dissolve, according to his athletic director and university president.

The coach said Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado would join the Pac-10, leaving behind Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State.

"Nebraska is the key," the coach said.

The coach said the Pac-10 favored Colorado over Baylor because of the Buffaloes' presence in the Denver TV market.

Nebraska's executive committee of the board of regents agreed Wednesday to amend the agenda for Friday's meeting to include discussion of realignment.

"We did agree to amend the agenda to add an item regarding conference alignment," said Bob Phares, the committee chairman. "The potential for a resolution of that is we will have a briefing for the board on Friday and that was the substance of the meeting. There was no official action taken."

An executive call does not involve all board members, just the executive committee, which consists of Phares and fellow regents Bob Whitehouse, Howard Hawks and Kent Schroeder.

Phares said the discussion Friday could lead to a vote -- if the board wishes to take action -- after Friday's briefing at the 1 p.m. meeting.

"The board could decide that they choose to do nothing and simply sit on the corner and watch the parade, they could decide that they want to reaffirm their commitment to the Big 12. They could decide they want to pursue affiliation elsewhere."

To amend the meeting's agenda, the executive committee had to make a recommendation to the board by Thursday at 1 p.m., 24 hours before the meeting, which led to Wednesday afternoon's conference call.

"We restructured the agenda so we can move this up the the top," Phares said. "It'll be first out of the chute ... It will be very soon after 1 o'clock."

Phares said he was unsure of the board's attitude toward a move to the Big Ten.

"We're trying to make sure we make a factual decision here, not an emotional one," he said.

Schroeder, a Kearney, Neb., lawyer who has been on the Nebraska Board of Regents since 1998, also said he expects a presentation from university president Harvey Perlman and Osborne at Friday's scheduled board meeting.

"I'm expecting them to tell me the pluses and minuses of remaining in the Big 12 or going to the Big Ten," Schroeder said.

But Schroeder, who served as the board's chairman in 2009, says he has no preference for either conference, because in order to do so, he "has to have data presented in a way that would allow him to establish a preference."

Schroeder told the Journal Star there have been no previous meetings between regents about the topic of conference realignment.

Osborne said in a radio interview Tuesday night that a decision should come soon.

"Hopefully we'll get things put together in the next few days," Osborne told the statewide Husker Sports Network on Tuesday night without indicating Nebraska's preference. "I don't know exactly what the time frame is [that] we'll be able to put this thing to bed. But I'm getting tired of it, you're probably getting tired of it, and the fans are getting tired of it."

Missouri appears to be falling down the list of priorities for the Big Ten.

An athletic director with knowledge of the Big Ten told Orangebloods.com, "Missouri is getting cold shoulder from Big Ten."

The Big Ten announced late last year it is considering adding at least one school, and possibly more, to add a league championship game in football and broaden the reach of its cable television network. Its decision has created a ripple throughout the power conferences, causing the Pac-10 to mull its own expansion and threatening the survival of the Big 12.

A Big 12 source told ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan officials from Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, in a move sensing Nebraska's determination to join the Big Ten, have already met to pledge their solidarity. The first choice is to save the Big 12, but if that's not possible, officials from those schools are prepared to merge with the Pac-10.

The source said the meetings included the chancellors, presidents and athletic directors from the three schools. Not present was a Baylor contingent. Baylor is locked in a battle with Colorado for what is presumed to be the sixth spot along with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would create a 16-team super-conference with the Pac-10 schools.

Texas and Texas A&M are also expected to meet Thursday to discuss their next move. Another Big 12 source said that Nebraska's actions have greatly accelerated talks among officials at Big 12 schools.

The source said that Texas president William Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds met with the coaches on Wednesday to update them on the swirling realignment talks.

Texas and the other Big 12 South schools, the source said, continue to work to keep the Big 12 intact.

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen; ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg, Mark Schlabach and David Ubben; ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan; and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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