After months and even years of propositions, conversations and investigations into expansion, the Big 12 conference is staying as is for an undetermined amount of time.
Colorado State was among eleven “finalists” making their case for addition into the conference if the conference did decide to expand and include at least two more members.
Houston, Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Southern Methodist, Air Force, Central Florida,Connecticut, Rice, South Florida and Tulane were the other schools vying for a position within the Power Five conference.
But all of the team proposals, meetings, and money spent turned out to be for nought as the Big 12 officially decided against expansion Monday afternoon.
Conference president Bob Bowlsby and expansion committee president and University of Oklahoma president David Boren held a press conference after the conference’s Board of Directors meeting where the issue was decided.
“We wanted to look very thoroughly on whether it would be advantageous to us at this moment in time to undertake expansion and we came to a conclusion that that was not the right thing to do at this time,” Boren said during the press conference.
“The decision was unanimous, all the schools (Big 12 members) participated very actively in the decision,” Boren said. “Once that decision was made, once that we decided that this issue would no longer stay on the agenda, we decide to move on.”
Boren described that meeting as a “thoughtful and candid” and that it showed “a great deal of strength and unity within the conference.”
The strength within the conference was one thing that the two conference officials used numerous times throughout the press conference to explain why expansion was not undertaken right now.
For now, the conference is looking internally instead of externally to determine how to strengthen the conference, and Bowlsby said that while “We had a bunch of good schools involved, in the end we felt that what we had was pretty good.”
Boren said the conference was pursuing “technological changes” that could improve the conference without expansion, and that while the conference was pursuing a TV network of it’s own, like the BIG Ten conference or the PAC-12 conference, the marketplace made the decision that now would not be the time for that network.
Bowlsby said that the conference as a whole went through an extensive data analysis on expansion, coupled with the “local elements” that specific University presidents of the Big 12 conference put a priority on.
“Our 10 Presidents came together in unity and came to the conclusion and that was that we like the competition that we have, we like playing a full round robin, we are glad we added an expansion game,” Bowlsby said during the press conference.
Noting the conference’s success in multiple sports such as Men’s and Women’s basketball, as well as baseball, Bowlsby said that this decision was not solely based on football.
“We do a very good job of competing at the highest level (across all sports),” he said. “There’s a lot to celebrate. I think the decision in part was a celebration of what we had.”
As far as the individuals schools that made their pitch to join the conference?
“The decision really didn’t have very much to do with the individual elements of those institutions,” Bowlsby said. “They all have their own strengths and weaknesses obviously as all of our members do. This was really about defense of our model.”
“We feel a deep gratitude for those colleges and universities that have indicated interest in being a part of the Big 12,” Boren said. “While we have made a decision, they are quality universities. Quality both in academic terms and athletic terms, and while we have made a decision that right now, it’s the best for us to stay where we are, we do very much appreciate their interest.”
CSU President Tony Frank, a key figure in CSU’s bid for the school’s inclusion in the conference made his own statement after the news broke on Monday.
“We appreciate and respect the Big Xll’s process for considering expansion and know that this is a decision they have looked at thoroughly,” Frank said. “We feel good about the case we made, as an excellent academic institution (and) with an athletic department of the highest integrity on the rise in the fields, courts, and classrooms. In the end, our commitment to excellence in all we do remains steadfast and unwavering. We remain confident in this direction, are proud of where we are now, and excited about the future.”
About the future of the conference’s expansion, Boren said that he would never say never, but as of right now, “it’s off the agenda.”
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5