Big 12 decides against expanding beyond 10 members

the talk of the Big 12 Conference expanding has been heating up for months. The Big 12 Presidents met in Dallas to discuss the possibility of adding more teams.

Teams outside the Power 5 conferences will have to wait for an invitation to the Big 12.

The conference will not expand beyond 10 member schools as it continues to explore options to improve revenues, a person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby revealed the decision to pass on expansion.

Bowlsby announced in July the conference would consider adding schools, possibly two to return to its original membership of 12 or four to reach 14 institutions.

The school presidents met Monday to discuss potential candidates Houston, Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Southern Methodist, Air Force, Central Florida, Colorado State, Connecticut, Rice, South Florida and Tulane.

Eight of the 10 schools must approve the addition of any school.

While adding more schools would generate more television revenue, the league’s TV partners ESPN and FOX aren’t thrilled by the idea of expanding (which would kick in a pro rata clause in the TV contracts that would pay the Big 12 approximately $25 million more per new member per year). The networks have instead floated the idea of kicking in more money — but less than the pro rata clause would call for — for the league to stand pat.

It appears staying at 10 will be the decision for the foreseeable future. The conference is eligible to hold a championship game for football starting in 2017, which would help generate additional money for schools.

However, the league still lags behind the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten, partly because it is the lone major conference to not have its own network or, like the ACC, have an agreement in place to start one in the future.

 


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