REPORT: UofL Big 12 expansion candidate

An ESPN report published Wednesday named Louisville, BYU and West Virginia as top Big 12 expansion targets.

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The Big 12, in the wake of Tuesday's decision by the PAC-12 not to invite Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, isn't just looking to strengthen and heal itself from within.

Now a nine-team league after recent defections by Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M, Big 12 presidents, according to ESPN's Andy Katz, will consider strengthening their numbers through the expansion process.

According to ESPN.com, the three likely candidates for Big 12 expansion are BYU, currently independent, and Big East members Louisville and West Virginia. Those three schools, along with Arkansas and Pittsburgh were Big 12 candidates to replace Texas A&M. Arkansas chose to remain in the SEC, while Pittsburgh left the Big East for the ACC last week.

"The Big 12 is moving toward stabilization," one Big 12 athletic director told ESPN Wednesday afternoon.

If the Big 12 added BYU, Louisville and West Virginia, the league again would rank among the nation's top conferences.

From Louisville's perspective, a football league consisting of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, West Virginia, BYU and Kansas State would be a significant upgrade over the current Big East.

And while the basketball wouldn't be as appealing as the current Big East, it would still be formidable and exciting with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Kansas State and Baylor – all perennial NCAA Tournament teams.

A Big 12 conference schedule that brought Texas, Oklahoma and the rest of the gang to Louisville would surely be a big hit with fans, who would undoubtedly fill up Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and the KFC Yum! Center.

Big 12 presidents will discuss Thursday how to stabilize a league that has been in crises the past two years. There appear two main issues to resolve: 1. The fate of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, who Oklahoma wants to replace; and 2. Establishing clearly defined rules for Texas' Longhorn Network.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said Wednesday that UT is opposed to sharing the revenue - $300 million over 20 years – from its ESPN-backed network.

ESPN also reported that the Big 12 would inquire if Texas A&M would consider staying with the league if Texas makes concessions. But Aggies officials sounded clear in their intent this week to leave for the SEC.

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