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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be pursuing a 12-team expansion to prepare for the departure of Texas and Oklahoma. The exodus of the conference’s two marquee programs will drop the number of Big 12 teams to eight — the lowest among Power Five conferences.
Max Olson of The Athletic broke the news on Thursday. Many had anticipated that the Big 12 would attempt their own expansion after all the SEC and alliance talk from the past couple of months. On their list of potential additions are UCF, Cincinnati, BYU and Houston.
Bowlsby’s announcement read:
“Following two days of consultation with the athletics directors of the continuing members of the Big 12 Conference, the eight athletic directors 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. Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the conference.”
The Big 12's current preference in expansion discussions is adding four members, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 2, 2021
BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are considered the leading contenders. Still a lot of work to be done.
More info: https://t.co/5V7wCpi0DH
OU and UT are bound to the Big 12 until 2025 due to television agreements, but their goodbyes will likely come years early.
Bowlsby has been in the hot seat among executives in the Big 12 after his desperate bids and discussions failed to retain Texas and Oklahoma. With tentative plans to include UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston, Bowlsby is temporarily quelling fears of staying relevant until the big bad SEC arrives.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela