Big 12

Big 12 gives Bowlsby go-ahead to look at expansion candidates

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks Monday at a press conference at the Dallas Omni, site of the league’s football media day. The league board of directors voted Tuesday to ask Bowlsby to make contact again with the schools who want to join the league.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks Monday at a press conference at the Dallas Omni, site of the league’s football media day. The league board of directors voted Tuesday to ask Bowlsby to make contact again with the schools who want to join the league. AP

The Big 12 has breathed life back into its expansion chances.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was told to evaluate the interest of the schools that have contacted the Big 12 about joining, conference official David Boren said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

“A number of universities have contacted the Big 12 to express interest in our conference,” said Boren, Oklahoma University president and chairman of the conference board of directors following a meeting in Dallas. “The board today directed the commissioner to actively evaluate their interest and to report back on those interests at a future board meeting.”

The action keeps expansion talk alive. It was thought to be dormant following the league’s decision to add a championship game and pass on a television network.

We intend to be very active pretty soon. My guess is that after this news breaks, we will be contacted by them again.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby

BYU, Connecticut, Memphis, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Central Florida, South Florida and Houston are among the schools that have contacted or are believed to have contacted the Big 12 with strong interest in joining.

“The commissioner will recontact those schools that have expressed interest in us, who have come to us, and find out exactly the nature of the interest and find out what proposals they might make in accordance to their interest and report back,” Boren said.

Bowlsby said he could not provide a timeline.

“We intend to be very active pretty soon,” Bowlsby said. “My guess is that after this news breaks, we will be contacted by them again. There likely will be a two-stage process of some sort that will involve some preliminary work and a secondary process that gets into a little more fact-finding and perhaps even a negotiation stage.”

BYU, Connecticut, Memphis, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Central Florida, South Florida and Houston are among the schools that have contacted or are believed to have contacted the Big 12 with strong interest in joining.

But Bowlsby said it’s clear the league “sees a way forward” on expansion.

“Like the championship game, the board evaluated the data, listened to our consultants, had a good, frank, forthright conversation among themselves and saw a path forward clearly and have taken steps,” he said. “We all need to go away from this meeting and think about it from a logistical standpoint and put a plan together. I would be presumptuous and not fully honest if I told you I have a fully fleshed-out plan at this point.”

BYU, Connecticut, Memphis, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Central Florida, South Florida and Houston are among the schools that have contacted or are believed to have contacted the Big 12 with strong interest in joining.

Boren said the vote was unanimous on the motion to have Bowlsby get back to the potential candidates.

“I think it’s a statement that we want to move forward,” he said. “I would say yes, it’s a forward step, it’s a positive step. It’s not a decision yet on a particular university or college or even a decision on whether we would expand. But definitely a forward step and shows momentum by the board to consider this a possibility.”

Also, the board of directors met for two hours with Baylor officials about their response to the sexual assault scandal that cost the jobs of football coach Art Briles and other school officials.

“It was quite candid and something that was very necessary from our point of view so we could meet our responsibility to make sure we maintain appropriate standards and appropriate safety and welfare in the Big 12 Conference,” Boren said.

Oklahoma president David Boren discusses the merits league officials seek in candidates for league expansion, which will be discussed again later this summer. Video by Jimmy Burch

Star Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel and Baylor alum Kathryn Dunn talk Baylor during Big 12 media days (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

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