KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Big 12 may have another member's loyalty to worry about when it comes to a long-term commitment.
Kansas AD Lew Perkins hinted strongly Tuesday that his school has been contacted by at least one other conference recently as expansion mania rages. Twice during a 26-minute press conference at the Big 12 spring meetings Perkins seemed to leave the door open for Kansas' future.
Asked directly whether his school had been contacted by another conference, Perkins said: "I won't go into any detail...People call me, I call on them. We're communicating."
Near the end of the press conference, Perkins was asked if Kansas would listen if the Big Ten called.
"How do you know they haven't called us [already]?" he teased.
So, have they?
"I want you to think about my question back to you," Perkins said.
Those comments don't necessarily mean Kansas is going anywhere. On the surface, KU is not exactly dealing from a position of strength. It has neither the market nor the football program that would seemingly be attractive to the Big Ten.
But Perkins' comments have to add another layer of angst for a conference worried about its future. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has suggested he will issue an in-or-out ultimatum this week to schools with wandering eyes. Obviously, he is referring to Nebraska and Missouri which have been mentioned prominently as Big Ten candidates.
The Big 12 would be impacted severely if those schools left for the Big Ten. On the other hand, the league could get along with 10 teams and maybe even prosper more than it is now. With only 10 mouths to feed, a new lucrative TV contract could be negotiated next year.
The Big 12 is the nation's biggest example at the moment of every-man-for-himself in the conference carousel. It could be poached on the East by the Big Ten and on the West by the Pac-10. As long as big dogs Texas and Oklahoma hang on, the Big 12 seemingly will stay viable. If not, well, Texas AD DeLoss Dodds didn't exactly pledge loyalty Tuesday when he said that the Longhorns "...are going to be a player in whatever happens."
It's all a matter of who has the leverage. Texas' is the richest athletic department in the country. Missouri has 2.5 million virgin households potentially for the Big Ten Network. Nebraska is a name brand that could turn on televisions all over the country.
Kansas? A top-five basketball program and a mediocre football program reside in one of the nation's least populated states.
"I'm worried every day about what is going to happen...," Perkins said. "This is serious, serious, serious stuff."
Perkins admitted he was distracted by a couple of recent scandals at the school and hadn't been fully focused on the expansion issue. The school reacted to ticket scam last week that may have cost the school between $1 million-$3 million in scalped tickets. Perkins also said he couldn't go into detail regarding an ongoing blackmail investigation. Perkins filed a police report in April over a dispute regarding workout equipment that had been lent to him.
"The future of Kansas and 200 other universities in this country is expansion and affiliation ...," Perkins added. "The Big Ten has been in existence for 100 years. The Pac-10 for 100 years [actually only 32 years]. If you really analyze us, we're [Big 12] teenagers. We're just young kids. This is me saying this: I want to grow old with all my siblings."
The meetings conclude on Friday.