The Big Ten and SEC have formed a joint advisory group of university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to "address the significant challenges facing college athletics" and how to improve the student-athlete experience, the conferences announced Friday.
The move is significant because it reflects a growing relationship between the two largest and wealthiest conferences and their respective commissioners as the balance of power continues to tilt in their favor in the evolving collegiate landscape.
Sources have told ESPN that Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey have been working closely together -- more than their predecessors had -- at a time when conference expansion has further separated their leagues from the other FBS conferences. The SEC will welcome Oklahoma and Texas this summer, while the Big Ten will add Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA from a Pac-12 that is on the verge of extinction.
The advisory group was formed in reaction to "recent court decisions, pending litigation, a patchwork of state laws and complex governance proposals," according to the Big Ten's news release.
"The Big Ten and the SEC have substantial investment in the NCAA and there is no question that the voices of our two conferences are integral to governance and other reform efforts," Petitti said in a statement. "We recognize the similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face."
The Big Ten-SEC advisory group will act as a consultant to the leagues but won't have authority to implement changes. Its composition and timetable and the specific issues it will tackle are still unclear. What it has done, though, is further bind the two behemoths together.
"There are similar cultural and social impacts on our student-athletes, our institutions, and our communities because of the new collegiate athletics environment," Sankey said in a statement. "We do not have predetermined answers to the myriad questions facing us. We do not expect to agree on everything but enhancing interaction between our conferences will help to focus efforts on common sense solutions."