Just yesterday it looked as though everyone following the Big 12 expansion saga was going to get a long-awaited resolution as early as Monday. Now, according to one report, that resolution may leave some with an empty feeling.
Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports Big 12 expansion now appears unlikely, and television partners could be to blame (or thanked depending on your stance on this subject). The Big 12 may still cash in on this process, as Thamel reports the Big 12’s television partners (ESPN and FOX) are willing to pay to keep the status quo in the Big 12. Per Thamel;
Multiple sources indicated there have been discussions with the Big 12’s TV partners to pay the league not to expand. The purpose of the payment would be to eliminate the pro rata clause in the TV contract—which the TV officials consider a loophole—that enables the league to receive nearly $25 million annually for every school it adds. The willingness of ESPN and Fox to discuss paying to eliminate that clause and end future potential expansion drama in upcoming years makes not expanding the most likely conclusion.
To those already in the Big 12, that is great news to hear. More money without having to do a darn thing? Sign me up. On the other hand, you have schools like Houston, BYU, Cincinnati and more that will likely feel burned and cry foul, and then have to sell the idea of staying put where they currently are and acting as though that is what they always wanted. The Big 12 will end up leaving these schools out to dry after luring them in. That’s cruel, but still probably a smart business move for the conference.
An official announcement from the Big 12 on the final decision is expected to be made Monday evening. It is by that time it is expected whatever schools were still left in the supposed running to join the Big 12 will be informed they will not be receiving an invitation to join the conference.
Monday is going to be pretty dramatic, whatever happens.