We don’t know yet which schools the Big 12 will add in its latest round of expansion. We do know, though, one who won’t be added.
In a press release, and in a move that will surprise almost no one outside of the university, East Carolina confirmed that the Big 12 has informed them that they are no longer being considered as a candidate for expansion. It had previously been reported that ECU was one of 20 Group of Five schools that contacted the conference about becoming a member.
The Big 12’s decision on ECU comes a couple of weeks after the current American Athletic Conference member conducted a video conference with commissioner Bob Bowlsby to make its pitch for membership.
“I am proud of the support Pirate Nation provided to our efforts,” ECU president Dr. Cecil Stanton said in a statement. “While I am disappointed by the decision, I remain undaunted in my commitment to ECU athletics and the excellence displayed by our wonderful student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
“While it is obviously not the decision we were hoping for, I am confident ECU put forth its best effort during this process,” a statement from the school’s athletic director, Jeff Compher, began. “Through a determined approach we were able to tell our story to not only the Big 12, but the entire nation. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff will continue to proudly compete for championships in the American Athletic Conference and we will represent our alumni and community with great resolve. We remain Undaunted!”
Nine other AAC members (Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF) are up for consideration by the Big 12. Schools from Conference USA (Rice), the MAC (Northern Illinois), Mountain West (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) and the Sun Belt (Arkansas State), as well as football independent BYU, are considered to be expansion candidates.
It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion. A report from TMGSports.com surfaced overnight that stated invitations have been sent to those six schools, as well as USF and two other unnamed AAC schools. Those on the receiving end of the invitations are expected to take part in another round of presentations, after which the conference will settle on their new members.
While the conference is looking at expanding by both two and four teams, it appears the former is the more likely number. A final decision on both the members and number of members is expected at some point in October.