LAS VEGAS — Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said Wednesday he doesn’t expect the SEC to further expand “in the short term” while speaking at the Sports Business Journal’s Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.
“I sure think so,” Byrne said when he was asked if the conference is done adding more teams. “I can tell you there’s nothing that is out there that I foresee where there’s going to be major disruption in the short term. And you never know down the road, each campus, the challenges, the pressures they face are different.”
Last year, Texas and Oklahoma shocked the college football world by announcing they would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025. There is an expectation that both programs could move sooner than that.
Byrne was part of a panel Wednesday that included Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, who spoke on the teams’ departure to the SEC as well.
“We were caught by surprise when Texas and OU left,” Taylor said. “We recovered nicely. Do I think it will settle? I hope it will settle. But we just don’t ever know … We did not see that coming, so don’t lock your knees.”
Expansion has been prevalent in college football over the last two seasons. As Taylor pointed out, the Pac-12 was also caught off guard when, earlier this year, USC and UCLA produced a similar landscape-altering move by announcing they would be leaving the Pac-12 and joining the Big Ten in 2024.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, also speaking at the conference Wednesday, said he echoed Byrne’s comments regarding expansion.
“I’m not a recruiter,” Sankey said. “We’re focused on the growth to 16. We don’t have a number in mind, we think we’re really well-positioned … but I won’t predict what others will do.”
When Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren was asked Wednesday on a separate panel at the conference whether the Big Ten was done expanding, Warren said: “For now.”