Big-12 Presidents Schedule Emergency Meeting Tuesday to Discuss Expansion

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 15 Big 12 Media Days
Bob Bowlsby | Photo from WV Sports Now

College sports were taken by surprise earlier this year with the announcement that the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas would join the South East Conference no later than 2025. On Tuesday, presidents of the eight colleges that currently make up the Big-12 will meet to discuss offering invitations to four new schools. Oklahoma and Texas will not be involved in the decision.

The colleges currently being discussed are University of Central Florida, Brigham Young University, University of Cincinnati, and University of Houston are the expected candidates. The decision to add the four schools could come as early as this coming week.

“Following two days of consultation with the athletic directors of the continuing members of the Big 12 conference, 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,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement.

The four schools would bring the total membership to 14 schools until Oklahoma and Texas leave the conference. Current media contracts could keep the schools in the Big-12 until 2025, however there are ways in which the move could happen earlier.

The best-case scenario for Texas and OU would be to see the Big-12 dissolve prior to 2025. This would free the schools of contractual obligations worth approximately $80 million. The news that the conference may add new members rather than fall apart is a good indication that this scenario will not come to pass.

Should OU and Texas decide to leave the conference early, they will be required to pay significant fees and penalties before being allowed to leave. In addition to media contracts, the schools are also contractually obligated to remain in the conference for 18 months following the announcement of intent to leave. The campuses would be required to pay a steep penalty to leave earlier.

The remaining eight presidents will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss including any or all of the new campuses. A decision may come as soon as Friday, however it could be some time before any of the schools actually join the Big-12.

Three of the campuses are under current contracts. Cincinnati, UH, and UCF would need to pay $10 million and wait 27 months to leave current contracts. BYU is an independent school not bound by the restrictions the other three campuses must undergo.

The addition of the four schools won’t make up for the likely hit the league will take in losing two of the most prominent schools in the region. However, each school brings a unique benefit to the Big-12 that will help to ensure the continued growth of the league.

The last time that members of the Big-12 changed, Texas A&M and the Universities of Nebraska, Colorado, and Missouri departed, but TCU and West Virginia partially offset the losses.

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