Sources: Big 12 to "rubber stamp" four new members tomorrow

Four teams expected to join the Big 12, including UCF and Houston, would do so by '23 or, at the very latest, '24GETTY IMAGES

Big 12 presidents tomorrow will "'rubber stamp' league invites to BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF," according to sources cited by Dennis Dodd of Fallout from the addition of those teams will "redefine what it means to be a 'power' conference" and "possibly impact a significant portion of college athletics." For the moment, it looks like the Big 12 "will remain a Power Five league," and assisting matters is the Pac-12 "publicly stating it won't expand and the alliance formed between it, the Big Ten and the ACC." The question becomes whether a league "without Texas and Oklahoma to define it can remain big time." A reconstituted Big 12 would be the "lowest-resourced Power Five conference," and it would have "fewer brands and major metro markets than any of the other four." The retention of the Big 12 in the Power Five model would give it "69 major-conference schools with 61 so-called Group of Five schools below that line." That would be the first time since at least the beginning of the CFP in '14 where there was a "majority of teams at the top level." There may be "little choice [but] to keep the Big 12 in the Power Five." One Power Five AD said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby "has enough clout to make it stay as it is" (, 9/8).

AUTONOMY STATUS LIKELY SAFE:'s Dinich & Rittenberg noted the Big 12's autonomy status "likely was safe even if the league did not expand right away." The D-I BOD is the "only group with the authority to make changes to the designations." The CFP has "no control over autonomy status." It can "only be removed with a weighted majority vote." A source said, "The presidents are not going to kick somebody off the island." But Dinich & Rittenberg noted the NCAA could "look very different in a couple of years" and these designations "may not mean what they do now, anyway" (, 9/8). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton notes the power conference designation is "far more impactful" than autonomy status under the CFP. Power conferences currently get $66M "apiece under the CFP contract," and that is expected to "go way up with CFP expansion." The group of five conferences "split $90 million" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/9).

AAC RESPONDS: AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed that the AAC "will now pursue its own expansion in response," with "10 or 12 schools the most likely configuration for the league." Aresco said the schools reported to be leaving the AAC "aren’t dynasties." He added, "Any schools that we add -- and there are schools interested in us who play football and basketball at a very high level -- they’ll compete at the highest level in this league. The DNA of this league is not going to change." Aresco "declined to go into specifics about potential candidates to join the AAC," although he said that "staying within the geographic parameters of the current league map would not be part of the decision-making process." Aresco: "We’re going to be fine. I want the fans to be patient. We will continue to have top-quality football and basketball." Aresco also said, “It’s ironic that the Big 12 appears to have done what they accused us of doing.” In Memphis, Mark Giannotto notes Aresco was "referring to the cease-and-desist letter" Bowlsby sent to ESPN in July alleging that the net and another conference, believed to be the AAC, were "engaging Big 12 schools in an attempt to lure them away in the wake of the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/9).

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