Although there is sentiment among some administrators for expansion, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Tuesday that league officials “don’t have any imperative for getting larger” at this time, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Bowlsby made his comments at a question-and-answer session in Austin with University of Texas students. The expansion topic has heated up in the past month, with Oklahoma president David Boren and West Virginia president Gordon Gee among those who favor the idea of going beyond the league’s current 10-member configuration.
The topic surfaced last month, shortly after the NCAA approved a waiver that would allow the Big 12 to stage a championship game in football with only 10 members as long as the league played a round-robin schedule. After the waiver was approved, Boren said he still favored expansion as a long-term way to improve the league and bring its operating practices into conformity with other Power 5 leagues.
Expansion discussions are expected at a meeting of league presidents scheduled Feb. 4-5, with Big 12 bylaws requiring an 80 percent approval vote to add any new teams. In addition, league CEOs are expected to discuss the pros and cons of adding a conference championship game in football, which would be permissible this season.
During Tuesday’s session in Austin, Bowlsby made it clear that the league is unlikely to stage a football championship game until 2017, at the earliest.
“I don’t know that we’ll take definitive steps there,” Bowlsby said of the February meeting. “I honestly don’t know where our ADs and presidents are on it right now. I imagine we’ll have a fairly spirited conversation. I just don’t feel like we’ll come to closure on it. On a practical level, we don’t have a venue at this point.”
In addition, there is no guarantee that Big 12 officials will choose to re-instate a championship game in football even though they now have the approval to do so. In terms of expansion, Bowlsby said: “We haven’t really spent any time thinking about who the candidates are, if there are any candidates. But … it doesn’t take any genius to look around and see where there may be prospects.”