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Expansion Still on the Table for Big 12 Membership

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A four-person Big 12 expansion subcommittee has been created to further conference realignment conversations. Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades, Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod, and Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen are currently scheduling meetings with Big 12 Conference school presidents to discuss potential next steps.

Without the PAC-12 offering asylum for the remaining eight Big 12 teams, this subcommittee will work alongside each school’s decision-making bodies to seek a way the Big 12 Conference can move on from its losses. Big 12 schools are currently bringing in approximately $37 million per school in annual television revenue, but that number will drop dramatically once Texas and Oklahoma head south. It’s not a total loss for the conference, but those two schools alone put a huge damper on the television revenue that the Big 12 will bring in after 2025.

Following Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s comment regarding the remaining eight members standing firm, it’s unclear which direction expansion talks will redirect, and within what time frame. The athletic directors, including West Virginia AD Shane Lyons, have been in consultation mode the past two days, trying to find a way to maintain the core schools while evaluating potential members, like BYU.

“Following two days of consultation with the athletics directors of the continuing members of the Big 12 Conference,” Bowlsby said, “The eight ADs remain committed to furthering the Big 12 as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences, and look forward to working with our presidents and chancellors to strengthen the league. Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the Conference.”

It’s not exactly an unexpected update, but it verifies that expansion is still very much on the table. In the event that talks with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and president Kevin J. Worthen go smoothly, the Big 12 could add a solid football team, one that has gone 81-48 in the last decade; for comparison’s sake, this record places the Cougars’ record third best in the adjusted Big 12, only behind the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs.

Behind BYU, the most likely schools to join the new Big 12 Conference era are UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston. All members of the American Athletic Conference, each school needs to alert the AAC 27 months ahead of leaving and pay up to the tune of $10 million for departure. This would be a huge loss for the AAC, but each school would work perfectly in the grand scheme of Big 12 recognition as a “football conference”. Each new member requires 80 percent of Big 12 membership to vote in favor, which releases Oklahoma and Texas leadership from required voting, as long as a unanimous decision can be reached by the rest.

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