On Tuesday the Big 12 announced it would be expanding the size of its conference by adding up to as many as four teams.
The decision was announced via Oklahoma President David Boren that Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had been authorized to field offers from viable candidates following a meeting of Big 12 presidents on Tuesday.
As soon as the 2017 football season there could be a whole different landscape when it comes to the Big 12 or it could still stay at the current number of 10.
Leading candidates in the possible expansion of the Big 12 are the University of Houston and Brigham Young after an ESPN poll was conducted by the league’s football coaches. Both programs each received five votes.
“The concept of change is always exciting and the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics invokes great passion in the nation’s fourth-largest city. At the University of Houston we are certainly honored to be mentioned as a progressive institution that places a competitive emphasis on both academics and athletics. As a Tier One research institution and Phi Beta Kappa member, Houston has seen a reinvigorated spirit in Athletics. We have returned our proud university to the national spotlight and we aim to compete on the highest levels as we build champions for life. our mission will not change,” said University of Houston Vice President for Athletics Hunter Yurachek in regards to the Big 12’s votes on expansion.
The other schools receiving votes included Cincinnati and Memphis with four votes each and with one apiece, Colorado State and Central Florida. South Florida and Connecticut have garnered interest also as possible members.
The league would consider such factors as reputation of academic standing, athletic program strength, fan base and the media market.
One big driving factor in the decision to expand was the new deal created between the ACC and ESPN where a new cable network would be created in an agreement lasting for the next 20 years.
In the current Big 12’s television contract, there is a per-school payout for television rights and they will not change based upon membership structure. This means that if the conference were to add up to four schools, ESPN and Fox are contractually obligated to increase total payouts by 40% according to a USA Today article.
New members will not receive full shares immediately as it is common among the conferences that new schools receive only partial revenue shares in their first couple of years. TCU and West Virginia have both been in the Big 12 for four years and for the first time just received full shares in revenue.