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Big 12 will not expand

After 19 schools expressed interest, conference decides to remain at 10 members

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The Sports Xchange

DALLAS — The Big 12 Conference decided it would not expand its current membership following a lengthy meeting of university presidents in Dallas on Monday.

“We decided after very thorough discussion that we would remain at 10 members,” Oklahoma president and Big 12 chair David Boren said in a press conference Monday evening.

“Our 10 presidents came together in unity and came to the same conclusion, and that was that we like the competition that we have,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby added.

Borden said the decision among university presidents to remaining a 10-school conference was unanimous and that no vote took place Monday on adding prospective members despite reports stating otherwise.

“We had no discussion of individual schools in the sense of taking votes on individual schools, trying to sense support for individual schools,” Borden said.

Borden added, “The fact that so many schools of such statue expressed interest in the Big 12 at this point in time is ... another sign of strength of the conference.”

ESPN reported that none of the 19 schools that expressed interest in joining the conference received enough votes (eight) for a supermajority.

Of those 19, only 12 — Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane — were interviewed by the Big 12, according to ESPN.

Borden also said the addition of a Big 12 championship game was being “implemented today” and that athletic directors have taken charge of that process and would discuss it publicly at a later date.

“We feel we are on a good track and making progress,” he said.

Another discussion point was the creation of a Big 12 television network, but Borden said the presidents ultimately decided against it.

“We found that the marketplace made a decision for us in essence that that was something that was not going to move forward at this particular point of time,” Borden said.

On July 20, the Big 12 unanimously voted to explore expansion.

The Big 12 is the smallest of the major conferences — comprised of the Power 5, this includes the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference — and presidents had been split on whether to expand, and which schools to invite.

In recent years, the Big Ten poached Nebraska from the Big 12 and Missouri and Texas A&M joined the Southeastern Conference.

Borden said the league was at a “psychological” disadvantage as the smallest of the major college athletics leagues. He said in June that expansion is no sure thing, while West Virginia president Gordon Gee supported adding to the conference but called the conversations “very complicated.”

Sports Illustrated reported ESPN and FOX had been in talks to pay the conference to nix expansion.

l Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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