CHICAGO -- The population drain from the Rust Belt is a huge issue in Big Ten expansion, commissioner Jim Delany said on Tuesday.
While there was no clarity here during the Big Ten spring meetings about expansion, Delany did make the reasons clearer. It's about the Big Ten Network and that loss of population. The BTN we knew about but population drain?
"We've [in the Big Ten region] been blessed in many ways by the economy and density of the population in the 20th century," Delany said Tuesday. "Our schools have benefited by healthy economies, by strong job markets, by growth, by immigration. In the U.S. the population started off on the East Coast and moved to the Midwest. In the last 20 or 30 years it's been a clear shift to movement into the Sun Belt.
"The Sun Belt [growth is] four times the rate [of population growth] as the East or the Midwest. That has demographic meaning long-term for the economy, for jobs, for recruiting of students, for the recruitment of athletes, for the recruitment of faculty for tax base.
"You do want to look forward to 2020 and 2030 and see what the impact would be on our schools, not only from a competitive intercollegiate aspect but also from the standpoint of recruitment of students, tax base necessary to support colleges and universities." ...
"We're growing; we're just not growing at the same rate as others. The question then becomes: Are there ways to offset that? That's a factor in why we undertook this [expansion] study."
Delany added that there will be no expansion vote taken on June 6. That's the next meeting of the Big Ten presidents.
"You bring the beer, we'll cook the brats," Delany told the assembled, "[But] we don't think there will be any earth-shattering announcements [that day]."