Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez understands the public would like some answers about Big Ten expansion. Just don't ask him. Alvarez said the decision...

CHICAGO — Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez understands the public would like some answers about Big Ten expansion. Just don’t ask him.

Alvarez said the decision rests with school presidents, not with the league’s athletic directors. Still, expansion was the hot-button topic Monday as conference coaches and administrators gathered in Chicago for three days of meetings.

“People want to know what’s going on, but nobody has any answers for them,” Alvarez said. “None of us do, anyway.”

Michigan athletic director David Brandon senses “change is in the wind” but isn’t sure anything will happen. And Indiana’s Tom Crean said expansion “is a topic of conversation” even if it’s not on the written agenda for the basketball coaches’ meetings.

The Big Ten last year grabbed the attention of everyone in college sports by announcing that it was considering whether to expand from its current 11 members, a move that would extend the reach of its lucrative TV network and add a championship football game. The timeline for any decision is said to stretch into 2011, but expansion and the potential domino effect have dominated discussions from the Big East, SEC and Big 12 to the Pac-10.

Last week, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany e-mailed conference officials to squash a rumor that Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Rutgers had been invited to join. Texas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Maryland have all been mentioned as possible targets as well.

Missouri officials on Monday denied an Associated Press request for documents related to the school’s possible interest in the Big Ten.

The expansion talk comes at a time when at least some schools are struggling to pay their bills, and no conference gives its members more money than the Big Ten at approximately $22 million each. That’s about double what the SEC and Pac-10 pay, with the Big 12 at $7 million to $12 million and the Big East $4.5 million or less.