The Big 12 Conference has invited TCU to become its 10th member, the league announced this morning.
TCU athletic department officials were scheduled to meet at 11:30 this morning to discuss the matter, a source said. The Board of Trustees is expected to approve the move within a week, sources said.
"These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU," TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. said in a written statement. "It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what’s best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."
TCU and Big 12 officials said they would have no further comment today.
"We’re proud that TCU has been invited to join the Big 12," Texas men's athletics director Deloss Dodds said in a written statement. "Their commitment to academics and success on the field make them an excellent fit. With a solid budget and strong financial support, they have been proactive at improving facilities. Their close proximity to all conference institutions makes for a comfortable travel situation."
In a statement issued by school officials, Oklahoma president David Boren called TCU an “excellent choice as a new member of the conference.” He also said, “There could be other additions in the future.”
Boren has publicly pushed for the league to recapture its 12-team configuration in efforts to stabilize the conference. Dodds has expressed support for a 10-member league.
A Big 12 source who participated in Thursday’s conference call with league presidents said there was no majority opinion among participants about the ideal stopping point in terms of membership. But the Big 12’s five-member expansion committee, which includes Dodds and Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, has not been disbanded.
The source said Missouri officials did not vote on any actions taken Thursday, in regard to TCU or other league-related matters, and did not offer any clarity about whether the school planned to remain in the league or preferred to seek another conference affiliation. TCU is scheduled to join the Big East for 2012 but that league recently lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference. TCU would replace Texas A&M, which is leaving for the Southeastern Conference. Missouri is also interested in joining the SEC.
If Missouri leaves for the SEC, the Big 12’s next invitation could be extended to Brigham Young. Both TCU and BYU offer unique flexibility in regard to 2012 football scheduling options -- as well as long-term value -- to a league that soon may have two vacancies on next year’s football schedules.
TCU can legally get out of its commitment to join the Big East next year, if it chooses. BYU is an independent in football. Both schools could be added to a 2012 Big 12 football schedule that no longer includes A&M -- and soon may be minus Missouri -- without significantly disrupting existing schedules in other leagues.
Other expansion candidates include Boise State and three existing Big East members: Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia.
Fort Worth novelist and sports author Dan Jenkins was almost giddy when he heard the news.
“I think it’s great. It’s great for fans, it’s great for Fort Worth and for TCU,” said Jenkins, the legendary sports writer who played golf at TCU. “I never thought we’d get back there. I think Gary has won our way back there.”
Jenkins said there are no negatives for TCU joining the Big 12, “except it’s going to be tough to win” as much as TCU has the last decade.
“It’s going to be a tough league, but financially it’s a no-brainer," he said. “Congratulations all the way around. I think it’s worth celebrating. Students should be dancing in the quad."
Big 12 officials have looked at models for a conference consisting of nine, 10, 12 or 16 teams.
The Big 12 officially has been a nine-member league since Sept. 26, when Texas A&M accepted an invitation to join the SEC. TCU, a member of the Mountain West, has a long history with existing Big 12 members Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor dating back to those schools’ days as members of the Southwest Conference.
The SWC disbanded after the 1995-96 school year, when four league members -- A&M, Texas, Tech and Baylor -- joined the existing members of the Big Eight to form what is now the Big 12. TCU has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference since leaving the SWC.