Oklahoma President David Boren: Big 12 expansion is ‘not a sure thing’

The Big 12 may not make a decision on expansion at their October 17th meeting, and not expanding is still on the table.

The Big 12 has been doing the expansion dance going on over six years and the end was thought to be in sight with the upcoming Oct. 17 meeting with the presidents or maybe extended to Christmas as Iowa State president Steven Leath said in a Q&A in mid-August. The prevailing thought was that the Big 12 would ultimately expand as they are now meeting in-person with a select group of schools in Dallas.

That may have changed as the Big 12 seemingly changed its mind, once again, as Oklahoma president David Boren said that Big 12 expansion is “not a sure thing” and that he is “not certain” there will be any decision on expansion at the league’s next board meeting which is scheduled for October 17.

“I would just caution you and say, I would not take expansion as a given,” Boren said after the university regents meeting on Wednesday. “I’m not saying there won’t be expansion. But I’m not saying it can be automatically assumed that there will be expansion.”

The expansion list has been cut down to Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, SMU, South Florida and Tulane. The topic that comes next is how many teams, football-only or do not expand at all, and what value and strength these teams bring to the conference.

“The question at the end of the day is, can we say with certainty, that expansion would add strength to the conference,” Boren told “I think there’s a lot of discussion that will have to go on before we reach that decision.”

Money is also a key issue in expanding and the pro rata clause which states the television partners of Fox and ESPN will pay out an additional $25 million per team per year that is added, and that could be as much as $50 million per year for the rest of the current TV deal if a pair of teams are added. There has been some push back from those media rights holders on adding teams since it will be expensive check they will be cutting and possibly for teams that do not bring back a good return on investment.

“We do have a relationship to maintain, not only short-term, but long-term with the networks,” Boren said. “When you have a partnership and you have a friendship, it isn’t just for today, it’s long-term. And I think you have to think about long-term implications in any action we take. If we were to expand by two teams, four teams, that has financial implications for the networks. I think we have to see if that adds to the long-term stability or not.”

With there still being questions about what these candidates bring to the Big 12, the league might need even more time to decided on about adding programs to their league or even perhaps staying at 10.

“I’m not certain there will be a decision at the October board meeting on expansion at this time,” Boren said. “We’re going to look at every way in which we can make the conference stronger and better. I’m not sure the automatic answer to that is expansion … and we are not going to rush into any particular decision.”

As it has been for the past six-plus year, we keep waiting on what the Big 12 may do in this latest round of potential expansion.

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