The Big 12 announced during a media conference call on July 19 that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will begin vetting and contacting candidates for potential conference expansion.
“It was a unanimous vote to move forward by asking the commissioner to follow up,” Oklahoma president and board chair David Boren said during the conference call. “That was the motion to instruct the commissioner to follow up with those schools that had contacted us and expressed interest and to evaluate their expressions of interest and interest and level of seriousness, as well as the level of preparedness to go forward with us in a meaningful discussion. So it was a motion. It was approved unanimously without dissent.”
Big 12 officials stated they will explore expansion by two or four members, and that schools may be added to the conference in time for the the 2017 season.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe released a statement regarding the Big 12’s decision soon after the call.
“We are obviously excited the leadership of the Big 12 has advised commissioner Bob Bowlsby to review potential expansion candidates,” Holmoe said. “BYU is known for its academic excellence and I believe we have an exceptional athletic program. As I’ve stated before, I would like to see our student-athletes compete at the highest level.”
Some have speculated that BYU’s no-Sunday play rule may be a sticking point when it comes to negotiations with the Big 12, but that may not be an issue if BYU is taken into the conference as a football only member — something the Big 12 is open to doing. Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com has reported that Big 12 officials believe football-only membership invitations is a possibility.
Bowlsby: Football-only members a possibly in expansion.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 19, 2016
There are a number of other schools vying for a spot in the Big 12 and each has something unique to offer. Houston has been extremely successful on the football field as of late, Connecticut offers a powerhouse basketball team, Central Florida has the largest undergraduate enrollment in the nation, FedEx has offered millions of dollars in advertising to the Big 12 if Memphis is invited, Colorado State would help the Big 12 gain the Denver television market and Boise State boasts an extremely successful football team.
Holmoe and the rest of the BYU administration has their work cut out for them as they attempt to provide some security and stability to BYU’s athletic future.