ND linked to Big 12 expansion talks

Reports centering on the Big 12 Conference and comments concerning possible expansion candidates have been surfacing at a fast pace of late.Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said on Tuesday he's satisfied with a 10-team league, which includes West Virginia, but also said league officials have had discussions with Notre Dame dating back to August of 2010.Notre Dame's Olympic sports have been in the Big East since 1995, with Fighting Irish football maintaining independence."Notre Dame has options," Dodds told CBSSports.com. "I think they love their position. I certainly think they can continue to do what they're doing and do it well and be a major player, but they have options."We've talked to Notre Dame about the Big 12. They could put some football here [by playing Big 12 teams in non-conference games]."On Wednesday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the school remains committed to the Big East."It's a mistake to treat this as some sort of pitch by DeLoss," Swarbrick told ESPN.com. "We're two people who talk frequently and talk about where we think this business is headed and who's doing what. We've talked about playing each other more, scheduling each other in other sports. It's a conversation that's had all of those elements to it."No one should have an impression where there was a point in time where DeLoss was making a pitch to Notre Dame. It's been more of a collaborative, collegial discussion about the two schools and how we can do more together."Swarbrick added that "our operating assumption is we will remain aligned with the Big East. ... As I've said many times, we're sensitive to the [Big East] changes and will monitor them closely."
On Monday, Fighting Irish basketball coach Mike Brey told CBSSports.com his school has a "contingency plan" if it decides to leave the Big East.Meanwhile, Texas Christian athletic director Chris Del Conte reportedly told Chris Level of RedRaiderSports.com that the Big 12 "now has schools like Florida State, Clemson and Miami trying to get in."He apparently later backed off those words, saying he "was referring to rumor mill, not confirming schools interested in the Big 12."On a radio show, Del Conte said he believes the Big 12 should take a breath."We are in a position of strength," he said. "Let's not rush into anything. We know expansion has to happen. It may not be for a while. We are in the catbird seat right now. We don't need to rush it. We are excited all of these teams want into the Big 12 and two years ago it was going to disintegrate."Andy Haggard, chairman of Florida State's Board of Trustees, said recently his school needs to look into leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big 12. Since then other schools, such as Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech, have been speculated as possible Big 12 candidates. Louisville of the Big East has been mentioned in the past.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.  5
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