According to several reputable sources, The University of Florida will become the Big Ten's twelfth athletic member. Documents leaked yesterday from Mayer Brown's Wacker Drive headquarters in Chicago show that the Big Ten has reached an agreement in principle to bring the Gators on board.
Few details are currently known about a deal that will send shock waves across the FBS landscape. Commissioner Jim Delany contacted SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in early March about the league's interest in Florida. Talks with the University began shortly after, and proceeded smoothly.
This is a huge coup for the Big Ten however you look at it.
With its public, land-grant, roots, the fifth-largest university in the United States will bolster the league's already strong research profile. Like its Big Ten brethren, Florida is a member of the Association of American Universities. Additionally, the league nets the third-largest athletic department in the country, and a major boost in viewership. Florida is the fourth most populous state in the U.S. The move certainly doesn't hurt the league's competitive stock, either. The Gators have won two of the last four BCS National Championships.
Florida, in turn, will enjoy an increased academic profile, and conference revenue. In 2009, Big Ten members pocketed $2 million more than their Southeastern Conference Counterparts. The surplus is bound to get bigger with the expansion of the Big Ten Network on basic cable into Florida's 18 million households.
We'll keep you posted as more details become available.