Bowlsby said Big 12 administrators seek to prepare themselves for “any eventuality” on the realignment front and discussed multiple options during a three-hour discussion about the league’s future. But he stressed that league officials would not rush to expand from the existing 10-member configuration unless it makes financial sense.
Based on a recent Forbes projection for the current school year, the Big 12 is expected to have the highest average payout of any conference in terms of television, bowl and NCAA Tournament revenues _ roughly $26 million per school. Prospective new members would have to bring a comparable amount of value to the table to trigger voluntary expansion.
“Anybody we would look at would have to bring pro rata or a very high likelihood of sustained growth that would bring benefits to the league,” Bowlsby said. “We are never going to get bigger just for the sake of getting bigger.”
Bowlsby acknowledged expansion by other leagues could force the Big 12’s hand and said officials “have to be prepared to respond to that changing environment.” Speculation has centered on Big 12 interest from Florida State and Clemson, with Connecticut and Cincinnati among the most desirable remaining assets in the crumbling Big East.
But the league’s favored option, expressed in a unanimous vote at Monday’s meeting, would be an alliance with the ACC and two other leagues Bowlsby declined to name. Commissioners from the Pac-12 and SEC said Monday they are not part of the discussions with the Big 12, ACC and other leagues.
“Our group said these alliances have merit and we’re willing to support it,” Bowlsby said. “The discussions are probably furthest along with the ACC, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what we’re going to end up doing.”
Big 12 athletic directors deferred questions to Bowlsby but indicated they joined him in considering Monday’s session a step forward in solidifying plans for the league’s future.
“I think we did gravitate around some principles that will guide us going forward,” said Bowlsby, who declined to offer details. “I think we created some filters that we all agreed on and I think there was a fair amount of unanimity in the room.”
The two-day meeting continues today, with discussions about future football schedules and bowl partnerships.
_ Jimmy Burch