One week after reporting the Big 12 was “seriously discussing BYU”, Max Olson of The Athletic reported Thursday morning that BYU is one of the four leading contenders to be added to the Big 12.
“BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are the four schools that have been most seriously discussed,” Olson reported, “and are considered the leading contenders, sources said. The Athletic previously reported the Big 12 was seriously considering BYU as a potential addition early on in this process.
If the athletic directors and presidents of the league’s eight remaining members can reach a consensus on which members to invite, sources believe it’s possible that the process could move faster than initially anticipated. The ADs of the Big 12’s remaining schools met with commissioner Bob Bowlsby in Dallas on Tuesday and Wednesday to begin planning the future of the conference.”
If the Big 12 does indeed expand, and it appears inevitable so they can grow from eight teams once OU and Texas leave, BYU seems universally considered to be the top candidate. BYU doesn’t have a conference buyout and seemingly has fewer hurdles than other schools. Olson reported that AAC members need to give 27-months notice and pay a 10 million dollar fee to leave the conference. UConn left in 2019 after paying 17 Million dollars and giving 12-months notice.
If Texas and OU do pay the early buyout and leave before 2025, then teams would likely join sooner. 2022 seems aggressive at this point, but 2023 could be a realistic timeline of when teams are added. If 2023 is the year, then the AAC teams would likely need pay a larger buyout since that is less than 27 months away.
Olson seems to suggest that the Big 12 is leaning to expand to 12 teams and align with its namesake. Olson reports that “several more Group of 5 programs are interested in joining the Big 12, but these four have emerged as the initial favorites.” Boise State is considered one of the top candidates, but Houston has appeared to gain an edge over them at the moment.
All sports would be preferable for BYU, but Olson reports that BYU “could potentially be brought in as a football-only member.” The Big 12 is a fantastic basketball league and would be great for BYU, but other BYU sports could potentially stay in the WCC if football moves to the Big 12. I still think if BYU goes to the Big 12 it would be for all sports, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
You can read Olson’s report in its entirety here.