After weeks of rumors, the Big 12 will add BYU, UCF, Houston and Cincinnati in a league vote on Friday. The news was first reported by Pete Thamel of Yahoo and then Brett McMurphy of Action Network.
The three American schools are obligated to provide two years of notice to leave the conference and a $10 million exit fee. But a host of reports say the schools will play in the Big 12 in 2023. That would require paying a negotiated exit fee. Connecticut did that to leave the league earlier for the Big East.
BYU has to deal with already scheduled games, but it could join the Big 12 earlier than 2023.
The Big 12 can expand under its bylaws with eight members, which would be the non-UT and OU members (though some articles imply it must be unanimous; my guess is that’s too avoid litigation over someone arguing the league has materially changed to void earlier contractual obligations). It’s unclear if OU and UT will still be voting members or will abstain in the vote. There is no report to say the Big 12 has declared those two disinterested directors, which would strip them of voting on expansion.
If the league adds those teams (which is going to happen), it remains unclear when Texas and Oklahoma will leave. The duo maintain publicly that they won’t leave until the GOR (grant of rights) expires after the 2024-2025 season. But no team has played four lame duck seasons in a conference. I’d guess the Sooners and Longhorns play the 2022 season in the Big 12, and then negotiate a settlement to avoid playing in 2023 with the new members.
Maybe the Big 12 looks to go to 14. David Smoak and SicEm365 explored that possibility today. Smoak is very well connected on that front, so he’s hearing that from credible people.
The Big 12 existing with the original eight and the new members is a good ending for Baylor. I’d prefer Houston not be in this conglomerate, but I’d take this over ending up in the American.
It remains to be seen if the other leagues decide to expand again. I don’t think the SEC will go over 16. But the Big 10, ACC or PAC-12 might want to expand again before the Big 12 signs a new GOR.