The league’s presidents and chancellors met Monday in Dallas and ultimately decided now is not the time to expand.
The decision to stay was unanimous, said David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors.
“Right now it’s the best for us to stay where we are,” Boren said.
There has been talk of expanding the Big 12, which includes TCU, since its teams were shut out of the college football playoff in 2014. Rather than add teams, however, the league decided to move ahead with plans to strengthen the conference from within.
Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the decision to not expand was about the conference itself and not about the other teams.
“This was endorsing and reinstatement of the 10 we have,” Bowlsby said.
Boren said the Big 12 takes pride in their national successes and shouldn’t feel the need to expand for expansion’s sake.
The 11 candidates being considered were: Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane.
Boren said they feel deep gratitude towards the universities that showed interest, because each one is a quality school. By them showing a desire to join, it shows how strong the conference is, Boren said.
“It’s a sign of strength for the conference that so many universities wanted to get involved,” Boren said.
Even with no expansion, the Big 12 came up with other ways to strengthen the conference.
The board discussed the championship game, which will be reinstated at the end of the 2017 regular season, and talks of a Big 12 network.
The Big 12 conference is about winning national championships, Bowlsby said. Competing at the highest level and with the highest competition is what teams are good at, he added.
“We’re glad we decided on the championship game.” Bowlsby said. “It’ll give us an extra opportunity.”
Even though fans might not be pleased with the decision to not expand, Boren said that right now teams in the Big 12 are “committed to each other, committed to the Big 12 and committed to staying in the Big 12.”