Big 12

Big 12 staying at 10 members

Big 12 presidents have decided against expansion, league sources confirmed today at the conclusion of a meeting of the league’s board of directors that ended more than two hours earlier than expected.

A formal news conference remains slated for 5:30 p.m. at a DFW airport hotel. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma president David Boren, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, will take part in the news conference.

The decision to keep the 10-team status quo has been considered a strong possibility since September, when Boren acknowledged at a Sept. 14 OU regents meeting that league expansion was “not a given” despite all the time, money and energy invested on the topic since the July 19 announcement that the Big 12 had shifted into expansion mode.

In lieu of expansion, Big 12 presidents are more interested in sounding out the idea of getting more money from TV contracts with Fox and ESPN by maintaining the status quo in terms of membership. A recent Sports Illustrated report said the TV networks seek to offer a fee in exchange for closing a loophole in the existing TV contracts that enables the Big 12 to earn nearly $25 million annually for each member it adds.

Today’s decision marks the end of a public and protracted exploration of expansion candidates in which Bowlsby vetted 20 potential members and trimmed the list to 11 finalists before presidents chose to stick with the league’s current 10-school membership arrangement.

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