Big 12 spring meetings among conference presidents, athletic directors and other league officials will begin in earnest on Wednesday, and interest in the developments will extend beyond the conference footprint.
Expansion will be a topic. No decision is expected on possible growth of the 10-team conference at the meetings and the latest indications are nothing will occur on the expansion front soon.
But the league is expected to hear a report from the composition committee, which considers expansion, and several schools outside the Big 12 haven’t been bashful about their desire to join the Power Five conference that should announce this week a per school check of around $25 million from its TV contracts, bowl games and NCAA Tournament revenue.
Among the most frequently mentioned schools: Cincinnati, Brigham Young, Memphis, Houston, Colorado State and Connecticut.
None are in Power Five conferences and it’s questionable if any would bring additional market value to the Big 12, which in its two-decade history has lost four members — Missouri, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Colorado — and gained West Virginia and TCU.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has said expansion likely is tied to other issues: a football championship game and a league network.
The NCAA has ruled that a conference with fewer than 10 members can conduct a championship game, but the Big 12 hasn’t showed a strong interest in a title game played between its top two finishers.
As for a network, Big 12 schools control their third tier media rights. Those are games that don’t appear on a network or a cable outlet like ESPN or Fox Sports.
Nine schools receive between $3-6 million for those rights. Texas’ third tier deal is with ESPN for the Longhorn Network, which pays Texas $15 million annually.
A league-wide network couldn’t work without Texas, and might not work even with the Longhorns as ESPN is in a belt-tightening mode with the loss of some 10 million subscribers since 2013, according to Nielsen.