BYU football plays West Virginia of the Big 12 Conference in 2016. (BYU Photo)

BYU reportedly set to join Big 12 Conference

After weeks of rumblings and speculation, Sports Illustrated reported Friday that the Big 12 is expected to add four new schools — including BYU — to the conference as early as next week.

The Cougars are projected to gain admission alongside notable mid-major programs UCF, Cincinnati and Houston, joining the likes of incumbent members Baylor, Kansas, TCU and others. While the other programs seeking admission are required to give a 27-month notice to the American Athletic Conference before leaving, BYU is independent in football and could join sooner than the others.

BYU was previously listed as a possible addition to the Big 12 in 2016, when the conference last flirted with expansion, but faced political backlash throughout the recruiting process and was ultimately rejected when the conference chose not to expand. However, with conference heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma announcing their joint intention to bounce to the SEC in 2025, the Big 12 finds itself desperate for new schools, leaving BYU as arguably its most attractive solution.

The move would finally put BYU in a Power 5 conference, a longtime pursuit for athletic director Tom Holmoe and company after declaring football independence in 2010. It would give their football program a more realistic path to the College Football Playoff, potentially keep men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope in Provo for longer and bring strong financial and recruiting benefits to all of the school’s athletic programs.

While Holmoe and BYU Athletics have yet to officially comment on the potential move, the Big 12 is expected to receive entry applications from BYU and the other three schools within the next week, according to reports from Sports Illustrated and ESPN. The expansion could be made official as soon as Sept. 10 when the Big 12 presidents meet to discuss the matter.

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