Report – Big 12 to Interview 17 Schools For Expansion, But Not UTEP
ESPN writer Brett McMurphy reported this morning that the Big 12 will conduct interviews with 17 schools via video conference for possible expansion, with the decision to be made by the league's board of directors meeting in October. Just hours after his story, McMurphy Tweeted that the list jumped up to 18 schools.
McMurphy listed 15 of the 17 schools that will reportedly make a presentation to the Big 12. According to sources, they are Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, South Florida, UCF, UConn, Memphis, Colorado State, Boise State, Tulane, Temple, East Carolina, SMU, New Mexico and Northern Illinois. UTEP was not mentioned by McMurphy in his story and Athletic Director Bob Stull confirmed to 600 ESPN El Paso that they will not be talking to the Big 12. Stull indicated that the El Paso television market is not strong enough for serious consideration to join the Big 12.
Although the Big 12 has been rumored to expand by as many as four schools, the more likely scenario is that they add two. There has been much speculation that the American Athletic Conference would be the most likely place to send two of its members to the Big 12. In that case, C-USA could lose two of its members to the AAC, who would want to replace the schools lost to the Big 12 as soon as possible. Middle Tennessee has already expressed interest of leaving C-USA for the AAC, and Old Dominion, Southern Miss, and Marshall are also candidates. UTEP is not openly campaigning for a move, although many insiders feel that the Miners would jump at the opportunity to join the Mountain West Conference. If the MWC does not lose one of its members to the Big 12 or AAC, the conference could stay at 11 and UTEP might have no choice but to remain in C-USA.