College Confidential

Big 12 expansion may take until December, may not include BYU

Iowa State president Steven Leath, one of 10 presidents from Big 12 schools who will cast votes regarding league expansion, predicted that fans will “see a different Big 12 in the somewhat near future” but cautioned that final decisions on new members may not occur until December.

Leath said a realistic timeline for the expansion process would be “between now and Christmas” during a Wednesday meeting streamed on Facebook Live with staffers from the Iowa State Daily, the school’s student newspaper. The session triggered significant media attention Thursday, with Leath acknowledging he is “getting more input from individuals on BYU than any other school” in regard to expansion candidates.

In an Aug. 8 letter to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, co-signers from 25 LGBT advocacy groups urged the league to drop consideration of BYU because of concerns about the school’s Honor Code, which outlines provisions where students can be suspended or expelled for engaging in a same-sex relationship.

Leath said he has received “considerable input on both sides of the issue” and acknowledged that the topic would be discussed by league presidents before a formal invitation is issued. BYU, a private school, is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Because of that religious affiliation, BYU has a policy that its teams will not play games on Sundays.

On the subject of BYU, Leath told the students: “It’s a school of integrity. They play by the rules, quality program, and people that have been there had great experiences and we should consider BYU. I’m getting an equal number that send me their Honor Code, their (discomfort) with a number of social issues. And then there’s a smaller group that says from a logistical standpoint, the fact they can’t compete on Sundays … make it unworkable.”

When the process is complete, Leath indicated that the consensus among presidents seems to be that Big 12 expansion is likely to occur. But the challenge rests with finding candidates that can garner the necessary eight votes needed for membership.

“The sentiment of the (presidents) was, ‘Let’s take a serious look and see who’s out there, who wants to join,’” Leath said. “We’re spending a lot of time and money to that end, so I suspect that’s where we’re going to end up.”

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch

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