SEC commissioner Sankey says there is ‘something different’ about recent conference expansion during appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has been one of the leaders at the forefront of conference expansion. 

When Oklahoma and Texas announced plans to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in 2021, it prompted a series of moves from other college conferences when it came to the latest round of expansion. 

Since then, the Big Ten will expand to 18 teams upon adding five Pac-12 programs and the Big 12 will increase to 16 programs after Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah announced plans to switch conferences in the past month

Sankey reflected on the criticism and surprise the SEC received when the Sooners and Longhorns made their impending move to the conference official. In light of recent expansion news, Sankey, appearing on The Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday, believes the SEC has played a positive role in conference realignment. 

“From that point forward, we and those two universities and our entire conference has sought to be orderly in the process and respectful in our communication, and I think we’ve done that,” Sankey said.

Sankey said he thinks speculation about “growth or directional growth” is “problematic” to him and for the landscape of college athletics. 

Now left with four programs in the conference, the Pac-12 has seen some of the most impact by conference realignment. 

Sankey said he received phone calls Friday and Saturday that consisted of conversations surrounding further conference expansion — something that gave him an uneasy feeling. 

“It just wasn’t one of those great feelings to work in college sports in my experience,” Sankey said. “I take responsibility where we’ve made moves, but there was something different last week about, really, the still questions around the existence of the Pac-12 Conference given its long and storied history.” 

Sankey said he hasn’t met nor had “any meaningful conversations” regarding the possible reformatting of the 12-team College Football Playoff model set to start in 2024. 

Sankey also said he thinks “we have to acknowledge that it is on everyone’s mind pending the outcome of some of these additional membership movement pieces.” 

In the midst of an ever-changing college athletics landscape, the role of expansion has thrown a new twist in the fold for the future ahead. 

“The expansion was about making sure we brought in Western football, well, now what’s happened is Western football has come into other conferences,” Sankey said. “The net of that is that circumstances have changed, and I think it’s wise for us to take a step back and reconsider what the format might look like given these changed circumstances.”