It seems that some values may have to be compromised in this expansion-go-round that was turned up a notch on Sunday.
The Big Ten prides itself on the academic exclusivity of its institutions. All 11 universities are members of the Association of American Universities. As you can read here, the AAU is a "nonprofit organization of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1900 to advance the international standing of U.S. research universities ...
"AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and well-being. The 60 AAU universities in the United States award more than one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering."
Neither Connecticut nor Notre Dame, two schools prominently mentioned in Big Ten expansion, are AAU members. One line of thinking has it that commissioner Jim Delany wants Connecticut because it would help the conference's reach in the Northeast (New England and New York area). The addition of Notre Dame would have a national impact.
Even without Notre Dame, Delany could conceivably make a run at the New York market with a three-school combination of Rutgers, UConn and Syracuse.
That's why Sunday's reported meeting of high-ranking Big Ten officials is so important. The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that the conference's expansion timetable has moved up. It would have been easy for those Big Ten officials to meet considering the AAU is meeting in Washington D.C. through Tuesday. That's the same day as when the BCS meetings begin in Phoenix, lasting through Thursday.
Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman is one of the 11 members of the AAU's Executive Committee.
To get an idea of how academically exclusive the Big Ten is, consider that the BCS conference with next most AAU members is the Big 12 (seven). The Pac-10 has six.