The Big 12 is moving swiftly to plug the holes looming with the upcoming departure of Oklahoma and Texas for the Southeastern Conference.
A person familiar with the Big 12’s expansion plans said the conference’s presidents are scheduled to vote on applications for entry into the league at a meeting Friday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Big 12 has not been publicly disclosing its discussions about rebuilding the conference in preparation of Texas and Oklahoma leaving in 2025.
Along with UCF and Cincinnati, the Big 12 identified BYU and Houston as its primary expansion targets last week and then moved quickly to make it happen.
Trustees at UCF and Cincinnati have scheduled special meetings Friday related to conference membership. Both of those schools, along with BYU and Houston, are expected to receive invitations to join the Big 12.
The moves come six weeks after the SEC invited Texas and Oklahoma to join its league in time for the 2025-26 season, though there remains the possibility that could happen sooner. For now though, the Big 12 appears focused on the additions and not how to facilitate the exits of the Longhorns and Sooners.
UCF, Houston and Cincinnati are in the American Athletic Conference, which requires members to give 27 months’ notice if they plan to leave the league. BYU is an independent in football and part of the West Coast Conference for basketball and Olympic sports.
The Longhorns and Sooners have said they will honor their current contracts with the Big 12 and do not plan to join the SEC until 2025, when the conference’s current television rights contracts with ESPN and Fox run out.
If that holds true, the Big 12 could have up to 14 members for at least a season or two.
Since the Big 12 started play as a 12-team league in 1996, Texas and Oklahoma are the only teams to win national football championships. Texas is the nation’s richest athletic program while Oklahoma is the six-time defending conference champion and still the only Big 12 team to make the four-team College Football Playoff. The Sooners lost semifinal games in each of their four CFP appearances.
The Big 12 has been a 10-team league since the last significant round of conference realignment a decade ago that started with original members Nebraska (to the Big Ten) and Colorado (to the Pac-12) leaving before Texas A&M and Missouri went to the SEC. The Big 12 brought in TCU and West Virginia, which are both now in their 10th league season.
As for the expected additions, Cincinnati is currently ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll, while Central Florida has more than 70,000 students and was the self-proclaimed national champion after going 13-0 in 2017. BYU has a nationwide fan base while Houston is in the nation’s fourth-largest city and will keep four Texas teams in the league when the Longhorns depart.