GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) _ The Big 12 Conference has decided against expansion from its current 10 members. The announcement came after a six-hour meeting Monday with the conference’s university presidents and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The Big 12 has been analyzing expansion options for the last three months, but it never made a commitment to expand. Conference officials held interviews in September with Air Force and Colorado State from the Mountain West; Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, South Florida, SMU and Tulane from the American Athletic Conference; and BYU, which is a football independent with its other sports in the West Coast Conference. The 10 schools that make up the Big 12 are bound together by a deal committing their television rights to the conference through the 2024-25 school year.
Expansion wasn’t going to change that, so the Big 12 declined yesterday to add two schools from a group of 11 that included BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Connecticut. The conference’s leaders then tried their best to put forth a unified front and positive outlook for the future. In spite of yesterday’s decision, the Big 12 still has much to figure out in the near and long-term. For one, the conference must decide how best to implement its football championship game, which is slated to return next year. Almost all available solutions are square-peg-round-hole proposals, but the conference thinks it needs the game to better its chances at the College Football Playoff and raise more revenue. The Big 12 paid out $30.2 million to each of its members this year, a record amount and third most among Power Five conferences. Still, long-term projections have the Big Ten and SEC pulling away in the revenue race from the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC over the coming years. Bowlsby said figuring new ways to generate more is one of the conference’s top priorities.