Both Colorado State and the University of Central Florida (UCF) made pitches to the Big 12 Conference in regard to potential expansion in 2015, according to multiple media reports.
Anticipating the next round of conference realignment, presidents at Colorado State and UCF made overtures to West Virginia University president Gordon Gee last year, ESPN reported in a recent article. Both schools reportedly sent brochures to Gee, one of three presidents on the Big 12 expansion committee.
Through an open-records request, the Coloradoan obtained copies of the two brochures Colorado State sent to the three presidents that comprise the Big 12 expansion committee. In addition to the four-page brochures, Colorado State also sent 3 one-page presentation sheets to the Big 12 presidents. The presentation sheets touted the Denver television market size and the 52,000 Big 12 alumni living in Colorado.
Notably, Colorado State included a presentation sheet entitled “You Can Get There From Here: Colorado State University” to show approximately travel times via airplanes to each school. SB Nation published several of the documents in a recent article on Big 12 expansion.
Despite the correspondence between Colorado State and Big 12 officials being made public, the state school’s athletic director attempted to deflect questions about Big 12 expansion in a recent interview. In it, Colorado State AD Joe Parker asked fans to focus on being competitive with its “current peer group,” according to a recent article in the Coloradoan.
“We want to be the very best version of Colorado State University that we can be. And in doing that, I think we will hopefully garner some attention and maybe be able to enter into a dialogue or conversation about whether we would be a likely option for expansion if expansion is going to be contemplated… We feel excited about who we are, the trajectory of the university, the things that athletics lends to helping people understand who we are as an institution. I feel like we align well with our current peer group, and I feel like we are in a position to really emerge as the pre-eminent program within the Mountain West.”
After receiving the information, WVU president Gordon Gee wrote Colorado State president Tony Frank in July 2015 to show the Big 12 was aware what the public institution offered.
“Indeed, Colorado State is making a statement and moving swiftly into the forefront of universities, not only in your region but nationally. Be assured that my colleagues in the Big 12 and I will take careful notice.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Gordon Gee was also receptive to the information he received about UCF, according to correspondence obtained between Gee and UCF president John Hitt. The WVU president wrote that UCF would be considered in future Big 12 expansion talks.
“I appreciate very much our [phone] conversation, and I appreciate the information you sent me. Be assured that the University of Central Florida is very much on our radar screen. The future of expansion is very much uncertain, but I also know that we are looking at these issues very carefully given the tumultuous nature of college athletics.”
Despite the public discussion occurring about potential Big 12 expansion plans, UCF athletics director Danny White is staying quiet about his school’s desire to join the league. White said as much to fans of the UCF Knights in a recent question-and-answer forum on Facebook.
“I think that as a community, as an alumni base, as a fanbase, as a university, we need to be mostly focused on the things that we can control. That’s building a fanbase, building our season ticket base up, getting our donations up to a Power 5 level and making sure we’re maximizing all of those things. If we do that and support our coaches at that level, because of all the other competitive advantages, we’re gonna be really successful [in the American Athletic Conference].”
Colorado State and UCF are not the only schools being considered as Big 12 expansion talk continues. Memphis and Houston have both made their desires known to the Big 12, according to the Inquisitr. These schools are among the group of 10 schools currently being discussed as options for a Big 12 expansion. Connecticut and BYU as both have been rumored to be at the top of the conference’s wish list. Having both UConn and BYU extended membership invitations is unlikely, however.
A decision on expansion could occur in two weeks when the Big 12 Conference presidents meet. To extend membership invitations, eight of the current 10 members would need to approve the measure. The move seems unlikely as the University of Texas appears to have enough votes to block any Big 12 expansion plans, the Inquisitr reported earlier this week.
What do you think about UCF and Colorado State pushing for inclusion should the Big 12 expansion become a reality? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
[Photos by Thearon W. Henderson & Christian Petersen/Getty Images]