Rumors abound that the University of Nebraska may soon join the Big Ten Conference which could spell the beginning of the end for the Big 12. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s looking at ways to prevent or delay conference realignment, but fellow Iowa Senator Tom Harkin isn’t sure this issue is something federal lawmakers should referee.
Harkin says, “While I am opposed to the kind of mischief that seems to be going on right now with the Big Ten and the Pacific Conference, I just don’t know if this is a proper place for Congress to get involved, unless there’s something dealing with anti-trust or something like that that we might be thrown into or interstate commerce.” If the PAC-Ten expands along with the Big Ten and brings the collapse of the Big 12, Iowa State University could be left without a conference.
Harkin, a 1962 I-S-U graduate, says it’s interesting that some people claim the federal government is too big and too intrusive, but now some of those same people want Congress to get involved in sports.
He thinks fans still have a voice. “The most important thing is public pressure and for the public to be involved in this,” Harkin says. “I think the citizens of Iowa and the citizens of Kansas and Nebraska, Oklahoma, the Big 12 states, all ought to get together and say, no, we have a good Big 12 Conference and we want to keep it that way.”
Harkin, a Democrat, says academics should be the focus for universities, not all of this posturing over athletic conference realignments. “Count me down as one who is opposed to this mischief that’s going on,” Harkin says. “I call it just that, mischief. It’s mischief with dollar signs in front of it, okay?”
The Nebraska Board of Regents is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss, and possibly vote on, conference alignment.