The Big 12 presidents held a half-day meeting at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, they ultimately decided against expansion. The conference’s decision comes after months of back-and-forth from those looking to keep Texas free of another major recruiter and those who wanted to widen the conference’s reach.
The failed operation first gained steam when Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chair David Boren said the league was “psychologically disadvantaged” by its 10-member status in 2015. Within a year, the league announced its intentions to explore expansion and spent the past summer reviewing candidates. Little of substance was revealed outside of who the league presidents had in mind—Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, SMU, South Florida, and Tulane. The Dallas Morning News reports the presidents could not reach the required eight votes on any of the candidates by the end of Monday’s meeting, thus tabling the talks of expansion.
While this may have ruined their dreams on getting in on the big TV money, the Group of Five schools had signs the movement was going to give out, most notably in September when Boren said expansion is not “a given.” This was followed by reports from Sports Illustrated this past week that found Fox Sports and ESPN were willing to pay the current member schools to keep membership as-is in an attempt to duck an extra $40-million payout it would have incurred under the current conference television contract.
Fox Sports president Eric Shanks went on the record with Sports Business Journal
to offer his negative view on the expansion matter and add some weight to the previous reports that the networks want no part of the Big 12's pro rata clause.
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. Who knows where expansion is going to go. Reading the smoke signals, [expansion talk has] cooled off. I don’t know why. We’re still in discussions with them. We still have a long way to go in the deal. We’ll work through it the best way that we can.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is scheduled to be calling the candidate schools right now to inform them of the conference’s decision: ultimately, the Big 12 couldn’t find the right school worth turning down the TV money. This will come as sad news to all 11 candidates, though the Bearcats might feel the sting of unrequited love a bit more after this deleted tweet made the rounds this morning: