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The two biggest and most powerful conferences in big-time college athletics are joining forces to develop a joint committee to advise the two leagues about the future of college athletics and how they might respond.

The announcement Friday by the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences would barely be noticeable coming from any other leagues. But given that the Big Ten and Southeastern leagues are generally seen as the two behemoths in big-time college sports—followed at a distance by the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 Conferences—their decision to team up is likely to add to fears among other major sports programs that the most powerful among them might be willing to walk away from their peers and forge ahead on their own, as some speculated amid the latest round of conference realignment last fall.

Officials of the two leagues dismissed such talk in an interview with Yahoo Sports about the new arrangement, saying their fates were tied to that of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But it is not far-fetched to imagine the two leagues seeking to create one national conference, given that as of next year they will be made up of 34 football teams in 27 states, including many of the country’s most successful programs.

Details about the makeup of the new panel and its agenda remain sparse.