Big 12 decides against expanding beyond 10 members

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. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma President David Boren made the announcement at a news conference Monday evening in Dallas.
 
Boren said the decision was unanimous and no specific schools were discussed or voted on during the meeting.
 
Bowlsby said his only recommendation to the board was to bring the expansion process to an end one way or another.
 
“This was not a decision to not expand,” Bowlsby said. “This was an endorsement and reinvestment in the 10 that we had.”
 
When asked if expansion was still on the table, Bowlsby said: "We do not consider it an active agenda item."
 
"We would never say never," Boren said, though he confirmed that the issue was not under discussion anymore. "We don’t feel a sense of urgency to expand just for expansion’s sake.”
 
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.
 
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.
 
"Ten is the right number," Texas President Greg Fenves said in a statement. "It promotes a competitive balance and allows for a round-robin schedule in the different sports, which is best for our student athletes. This is the right way to ensure a strong conference moving forward."
 
While adding more schools would generate more television revenue, the league’s TV partners ESPN and FOX weren'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.
 
“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference. We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference,” Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said earlier this month at Sports Media and Technology conference, according to the Sports Business Journal.
 
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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