Report: Expansion talks accelerate

The Big Ten expansion process will accelerate this week in Washington, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Sources tell the Tribune top Big Ten officials will discuss expansion Sunday in Washington, the site of the Association of American Universities meetings.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany confirmed in a text message to ESPN.com he will be attending the AAU meetings. The Tribune reported Northwestern president Morton Schapiro and University of Illinois interim chancellor Robert Easter also will be attending.

Delany had no other comment to ESPN.com, saying he's still "in a silent phase" regarding expansion.

Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon and Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman also are attending the AAU meetings, school spokespersons confirmed to ESPN.com on Sunday. Simon is the chair of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors, which decided in December to push forward with an expansion study.

According to a Dec. 15 statement on expansion issued by the Council of Presidents/Chancellors, if the league determines that formal discussions on expansion must begin with institutions from other leagues, Delany will inform Simon before contacting commissioners from the affected conferences.

The Big Ten said in December its expansion study was expected to take 12-18 months.

The BCS meetings take place next week in Phoenix, so the Big Ten could notify other leagues at that time. The Big Ten holds its meetings of coaches and athletics directions May 17-19 in Chicago, and the league's presidents and chancellors meet two weeks later in Chicago.

A Big Ten athletic director told ESPN.com on Thursday that the league's athletics directors hadn't had formal discussions about expansion with Delany or other top officials.

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.