Big 12 Opts for No Expansion

NBC Connecticut

The Big 12 will not expand the number of teams in the conference, officials announced Monday night.

That would leave UConn in the American Athletic Conference and out of a Power Five conference.

UConn was one of 11 teams being considered for a possible invitation into the Big 12.

The Big 12 has been analyzing expansion options for the last three months, but will stay at the current level of 10 teams, according to the reports.

In addition to UConn, Big 12 officials held interviews in September with 11 Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane.

The Big 12 has been tossing around the idea of expansion for almost two years as it tries to find ways to increase revenue and improve the conference's chances to make the College Football Playoff.

UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement she expected the Big 12 would decide not to expand. 

"While I am sure many in our community are nervous about what this means for our future, I am confident that we have put our best foot forward with considerable effort to demonstrate how we currently operate our university and athletics programs at a ‘Power 5’ level and will continue to do so," she said in the statement.

But the Big 12 decision means UConn will continue to compete without the revenue that a Power Five affiliation would bring with it.

UConn has a $71 million athletic budget.

The Big 12 has a 13-year, $2.6 billion television contract it signed in 2012. The American signed a six-year, $126 million deal with ESPN that expires in 2020.

In June, the Big 12 announced record payouts to members of $30 million each. UConn, in addition to its share of the conference TV money, gets $10 million a year as part of the breakup of the old Big East. That revenue stream dries up next year.

The decision not to expand was first reported by Sports Illustrated and ESPN Monday afternoon.

ESPN and Fox may have had a part in getting the league to hold off on expansion, which the networks felt could dilute the Big 12 both on the field and on television, Sports Illustrated reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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