September 19, 2021

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Big 12 focusing on BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF for expansion, could receive a league invite this month

Big 12 focusing on BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF for expansion, could receive a league invite this month

BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF have emerged as expansion options for the Big 12, and the league could extend official invitations by the end of this month, sources told The Action Network.

“The league has decided to focus on these four and at the moment no one else is being targeted,” a source said.

BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF could join the Big 12 before leaving Oklahoma & Texas

A source said the four schools are likely to join the league even before they leave Oklahoma and Texas for the Securities and Exchange Commission. OU and Texas are committed to remaining in the Big 12 until June 30, 2024. However, the Sooners and Longhorns can leave early by paying a higher exit fee or reaching a settlement with the Big 12.

An industry source said it’s not known if adding more teams – while OU and Texas are still members of the league – will allow the Sooners and Longhorns to cancel their contracts before 2024.

The Big 12 bylaws require members to give at least 18 months’ notice of departure and pay two years of revenue distribution, about $80 million per school. To join the SEC a year before the start of the 2024 season, Oklahoma and Texas will need to give notice to the Big 12 by December.

In terms of new members to the league, the Big 12 would prefer to add members of all sports and not just members of football, a source said.

“There is no exact date (when the official invitations will be extended), but I think it’s best if it happens in September, rather than later,” a source said. “Especially with these four (BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF).”

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BYU is the top target for the Big 12, according to sources, Business Network

Sources said BYU is the obvious better option for the Big 12. Since Cougars are independent footballers, adding BYU “may be less complicated, but they have a lot of future scheduling contracts (they’ll have to figure that out with other schools).”

BYU is a member of the West Coast Conference in non-football sports.

It is possible that BYU will join the Big 12 as early as the 2022 season, sources said, then the three US conference teams – Cincinnati, Houston and UCF – may not join until a year or two later.

For Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF to leave AAC, they must provide 27 months’ notice and pay an exit fee of $10 million. However, UConn was able to leave AAC with only 12 months’ notice and pay an exit fee of $17 million.

Other schools have reached compromises to leave other unions early in the last few rounds of conference reorganization, without meeting contracted exit requirements.

“I see all of this happening sooner rather than later,” a source said.

Image source: Mark Brown / Getty Images.

Boise, Memphis, SMU and USF . were also considered

After BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, the next four schools that previously received the most attention from the Big 12 were Boise State, Memphis, SMU and USF, according to sources.

Although several other schools contacted the Big 12 about potential membership, no universities other than those eight were seriously considered.

A source said the top 12 factors that the Big 12 consider for their candidates for expansion are “TV audience, football suitability and certainly market size is one factor.” “The men’s basketball brand is also very important. The Big 12 is one of the best – if not the best basketball leagues in the country.”

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A source said the Big 12’s decision was based “75 per cent on the success of football (in school) and 25 per cent of basketball (men)”.


Thursday, The Athletic newspaper first reported BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF were seriously discussed as candidates for expansion in the Big 12.

“There is no specific date (when the invitations will be extended),” a source said. “Do we take all four at the same time or BYU first and the others later? This is something to be determined. There are no easy answers.”

One source said that the Big 12 adding eight schools to reach a 16-team league is not a realistic possibility.

And a source said adding just two schools – a 10-team league without Oklahoma and Texas – was “unlikely”. “Given BYU’s circumstances as an independent (football), it positions them as the obvious #1 choice. Having to choose only one other school out of the other three schools (for a 10-team league) is very close to calling it now. It wouldn’t be a decision Easy. Plus, I think 12 is the right number for us.”