The Big 12 expansion committee met today for the first time since the decision to invite West Virginia as the league’s 10th member but a league spokesman stressed that does not signal the first step toward adding new schools.
“There is nothing imminent in regard to expansion,” said Bob Burda, the Big 12’s associate commissioner for communications. After this afternoon’s meeting, Burda said interim commissioner Chuck Neinas described the session as “routine” and said no additional meetings or conference calls with committee members are scheduled at this time.
Throughout the expansion process, league officials have acknowledged some conference schools favor a 10-member configuration and others prefer a 12-member league for the long-haul, with likely expansion candidates being Louisville and Brigham Young.
A report today in The Chronicle of Higher Education cited league sources saying the addition of at least one new member to the Big 12 was “very possible.” But nothing in today’s meeting, based on Neinas’ update, furthered the expansion process.
In addition, Burda said league officials anticipate “wiggle room” from TV networks if the Big 12 is unable to provide 2012 football schedules by the Feb. 1 deadline specified in existing contracts. Neinas has said he hopes to announce the 2012 football schedules by Feb. 1.
But until there is clarity about West Virginia’s departure date from the Big East, which is in the process of being settled in court, Burda said the Big 12 is in “a holding pattern” in regard to releasing schedules that include West Virginia as a 2012 member.
West Virginia has announced plans to join the Big 12 in July. Big East officials have said they plan to keep the school in their current league until 2014, per Big East bylaws. A Rhode Island judge has ordered West Virginia and the Big East to ender nonbinding mediation to resolve their competing lawsuits.
_ Jimmy Burch