HOUSTON — The Big 12 has narrowed the field of candidates for possible expansion to 11 schools, with Memphis and Temple among the latest to be cut from consideration, a person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press.
The person spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the Big 12 will not be making public any of its dealings with schools interested in joining the 10-team conference.
Big 12 officials are planning to start holding meetings in the Dallas area next week with BYU, Air Force, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Colorado State, Houston, Rice, SMU, South Florida and Tulane. The next meeting of Big 12 presidents and chancellors is in mid-October.
ESPN was first to report the field had been cut, with Memphis and Temple out of consideration.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby declined comment in a text message to AP.
Memphis released a statement from university president M. David Rudd stating he would not comment on the Big 12 process and referred to a portion of the nondisclosure agreement the school had with the conference. Temple officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BYU is a football independent with most of its other sports competing in the West Coast Conference. Air Force and Colorado State are currently in the Mountain West. Rice, located in Houston, competes in Conference USA. The rest of the schools are in the American Athletic Conference.
The Big 12 has not committed to expanding, but Bowlsby and Oklahoma President David Boren said in July that it would consider adding two or four schools. Adding members for football only is also a possibility.
Earlier in this week officials from East Carolina, New Mexico, UNLV, Boise State and San Diego State all publicly stated that their schools were no longer being considered as candidates for the Big 12.
The one surprise among the early cuts is Memphis. The school located in southwest Tennessee is within driving distance of many Big 12 schools and the conference has an agreement with the Liberty Bowl to send a team to the postseason game each season. Memphis alum and FedEx president Fred Smith had pledged his company’s sponsorship for Big 12 events if the school was invited to join the conference.
Academics seem to have been an issue for Memphis. All the schools remaining under consideration by the Big 12 are among the top 200 universities and colleges in the United States ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Memphis is not ranked.