Big 12 Meetings: No Championship Game, No Expansion

The Big 12 spring meetings in Irving, Texas have concluded with no vote on a football championship game, nor any move toward possible expansion.

The Big 12 has reportedly been lobbying along with the ACC for so-called conference deregulation, where conferences would be able to host a football championship game with fewer than the currently NCAA-mandated 12 schools. The league still supports deregulation, but Commissioner Bob Bowlsby reiterated his stance from earlier this month that the Big 12 is not yet interested in holding a championship game, stating, “I don’t think a year makes a trend.”

The lack of a championship game has fueled speculation that perhaps the conference was thinking of expanding beyond its current ten teams. West Virginia University Athletic Director Shane Lyons told WV Illustrated on Thursday that, regarding expansion:

“There’s a presidential committee that’s kind of looking at that as well, but as athletic directors, we try to look at the bigger picture of what actual teams and partners we could bring in that would add value to the conference and that’s still being explored.”

Bowlsby reported Friday that his ten member schools received $252 million in revenue from its media deals in 2015 – up from $220 million last year. TCU and West Virginia, the league’s newest members, received 85% shares, while the other eight got their full amounts, ranging between $23-27 million per school, in part because of each school’s retention of third-tier media rights. TCU and WVU will get full shares in 2016. The league’s current media rights contract with Disney and FOX has ten years remaining on it.

Any schools they could invite would likely have to add something in the neighborhood of $25 million each in annual revenue in order for expansion to make economic sense for the Big 12’s ten current schools.

That, of course, didn’t prevent the social media rumor mill from churning to life once again. Case in point:

A former Texas administrator who remains close to the Big 12, upon being contacted with that latest bit of speculation, told Sports Talk Florida via text:

“Send me what you are smoking- we are at ten for at least the next couple of years.”

Jim Williams contributed to this report.