One source close to the situation told HD when it came down to it, there wasn't a consensus on expanding the conference from its current membership of 10. A super majority - 8 of 10 votes - are required to add a new member to the league.
One high-ranking official at a Big 12 school told HD before Monday's meeting, "I'd be very surprised if the presidents voted to expand."
One source close to the situation told HornsDigest.com there was "a 30 percent chance" the Big 12's TV partners - ESPN and Fox - would basically pay the Big 12 not to expand by offering a financial incentive to eliminate the pro rata clause in the league's Tier 1 & 2 TV contracts that calls for the league to be paid a full share of $20 million to $25 million for any new members added.
The Big 12 Board of Directors meeting in Dallas on Monday became highly anticipated because back on July 19 league presidents surprised many by announcing they had asked Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to "actively evaluate" two to four expansion candidates.
Sources said Bowlsby interviewed roughly 30 schools as potential expansion candidates and cut the list down to 11: Air Force, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn, Houston, Rice, USF, SMU and Tulane.
There appeared to be some momentum right after the announcement to add at least two new members based on Oklahoma president David Boren's outspoken support of the Big 12 expanding to at least 12. Boren had said previously the league was "psychologically disadvantaged" at 10 members. West Virginia president Gordon Gee was also outspoken in support of expansion.
Almost immediately after the announcement, BYU, Houston and Cincinnati were the schools most mentioned to HD by sources close to the situation.
But OU and Oklahoma State, among others, weren't crazy about adding Houston, sources said.
Texas legislative leaders from Houston, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, expressed their support for Houston. And Texas president Greg Fenves put out a carefully worded tweet July 21 saying he support "considering" UH as a Big 12 expansion candidate.
Boren was probably more in favor of BYU and Cincinnati becoming members of the Big 12, sources said.
But then BYU's honor code, which forbids homosexual behavior, came under fire from gay and lesbian groups. That kind of stuff matters to school presidents, and BYU began to lose support, sources told HD.
Multiple sources said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby favors expansion, in part, because of the numbers he reported to league presidents in May. Bowlsby said then if the league did nothing - in 12 years, each school would be $20 million behind schools in the SEC and Big Ten in terms of revenue.
In June, the Big 12 approved the addition of a football championship game beginning in 2017, which is expected to add roughly $3 million per school in terms of revenue. Some sources indicated that would be the compromise for those in the Big 12 who had been pushing for expansion as well as a conference TV network.
Boren, chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors, said the decision was influenced, in part, by news leaks about the formation of an ACC Network. Other sources said the Big 12 presidents ultimately hoped that league TV partners - ESPN and Fox - would pay the Big 12 not to expand.
One source close to the situation told HD Bowlsby's only hope for expanding the league at Monday's meeting would be to convince the eight schools not named Texas and OU to vote as a block to add two schools as "insurance" in case Texas and/or OU decided to leave the conference around 2024-25, when the league's Tier 1&2 TV contracts expire.
But the high-ranking source at a Big 12 school told HD it was "highly unlikely" Bowlsby would do such a thing.
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