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Greg Sankey: SEC expansion ‘not at the forefront’ of spring meetings

Screen Shot 2024-05-28 at 9.09.17 AMby:Kaiden Smith05/31/23

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A potential nine-game conference schedule and NIL have dominated the discourse at SEC spring meetings this week, but the seemingly always hot topic of conference expansion made its way to the docket. The SEC is slated to add Oklahoma and Texas to the conference in 2024, expanding the league to 16 teams. And at spring meetings, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was asked if the conference would be interested in expanding further in the future.

“It’s not been at the forefront at all,” Sankey said. “Thinking back to my past expansion moments, nobody wanted to write about the Southland Conference power play in July of 1996 when we added Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana and did not add Centenary or Oral Roberts and UT Pan American at the time, and I never had to think of it again really in that league.”

No offense to Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana, but the stakes of adding the Sooners and the Longhorns, two of collegiate athletics’ biggest brand names, to a conference already regarded as the strongest across all sports definitely garner a little bit more attention. And at the moment, it seems like adding those two programs to the fold is more than enough to satisfy Sankey and the conference.

“And here we had opportunities presented to us, but it’s really not an active thought process, period on the end of the sentence. We are though highly attentive to what’s happening around us,” Sankey said. “Those of you who were in Atlanta heard me say very clearly our focus is on 16 (teams).”

While Sankey keeps his focus on his 16-team conference debuting in 2024, he also made it clear that his conference expansion tactics have and will continue to differ from others. Like the Big Ten conference for example, which has publicly vocalized the desire to add Pac-12 schools like Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington to their conference.

“Others have taken approaches behind microphones to say we’re pursuing members, we’re pursuing members of this region, I’ve not done that. I think I have a responsibility to actually not do that. So I don’t have an answer about what we would we think about,” Sankey.

Sankey was asked why he feels he has the responsibility to not publicly pursue teams to add to the SEC, doubling down on his stance to uphold his values in regards to the conference.

“I would just go back to those who have spoken and the tumult that causes, I think we all actually have that responsibility,” Sankey concluded.