Notre Dame won't comment on a report that it is being courted by the Big Ten as a possible 12th member.
The Irish reportedly have talked with conference officials and several Big Ten presidents about a possible switch in affiliation, even though nothing has come of similar overtures in the past, according to The Ann Arbor (Mich.) News.However, the Rev. E. William Beauchamp, the university's executive vice president, said Wednesday, "We at Notre Dame are very pleased with our athletic positioning, both as an independent in football and as a member of the Big East Conference in most other sports."
The one-sentence statement did not say whether anyone at Notre Dame has talked to the Big Ten about possible membership.
"That's not something I'm going to comment on right now," assistant sports information director Mike Enright said.
Other Notre Dame officials could not be reached for comment.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told The Associated Press on Wednesday, "Our presidents approved a strategic plan last summer. This is sort of the second time in the '90s they asked us to look at expansion."
But, he added, "We are not in expansion discussions with any institutions. We have had some preliminary exchange of information with a number of schools, and I'm not going to say who they are, where they are, but we have an awful lot of respect for Notre Dame."
The newspaper, however, reported that a source close to the discussions said the talks are "more than just preliminary."
The source, who asked not to be identified, told the newspaper that Notre Dame sees "tremendous advantages to being in the Big Ten. And they are the one school the conference has always wanted."
The Big Ten has acknowledged it is looking into possible expansion to 12 schools, which would allow it to create two six-team divisions and a lucrative conference championship football game.
NBC paid Notre Dame $35 million for its first five-year television deal, which expired in 1995. The network is in the third year of a five-year extension, worth about $40 million, and last year agreed to another extension through 2005.