According multiple reports, the Big 12 has narrowed its list of expansion targets to four: BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. Big 12 expansion is happening, and it is moving "faster than initially anticipated."
How fast? As early as this week. Here are the most important expansion milestones to watch for this week.
1. Four schools to apply for membership
UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, and BYU will apply for Big 12 membership this week according to SI's Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde. Once the applications are submitted, the Big 12 presidents will meet to vote on the four expansion candidates.
2. Friday meeting between presidents
In the same report from Dellenger and Forde, they reported that the four applicants "could be approved for admission in a meeting of Big 12 presidents Sept. 10." September 10 is Friday, the day before BYU's matchup against arch-rival Utah.
The timeline is still fluid - a vote on Sept. 10 is not guaranteed. If the presidents do vote, however, the "league has the eight votes needed for expansion."
3. Formal invitations as early as this week
To reiterate, the timeline is fluid. If the Big 12 presidents come together to vote on Friday, formal invitations could be extended to BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston on the same day. According to a report from The Athletic, "All four schools are expected to accept those invitations."
4. Lawyers will begin ironing out the details
Once BYU, UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati accept the invitations, the lawyers will get to work.
The first thing on the agenda? Timeline. The four schools will join the league sometime between 2022 and 2024. Dellenger and Forde reported that the schools "will join the league by 2023 or, at the very latest, 2024." According to a different report from Brett McMurphy, however, "It’s possible BYU could join the Big 12 as early as the 2022 season and then the three American Conference teams — Cincinnati, Houston and UCF — may not join until a year or two later."
Next on the agenda will be the financial payouts for the four new schools. According to Dellenger and Forde, "The four new members are not expected to immediately get full distribution shares," said Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde of Sports Illustarted. "However, their first-year shares in the Big 12 are expected to double if not triple their American distribution, which is around $6 million or $7 million."
5. Will the Big 12 retain its autonomous status?
One of the most important storylines to follow will be whether the Big 12 retains its power-five status following the departures of Texas and Oklahoma. This might not be resolved this week or even this year. However, college football leaders told Dellenger and Forde that they believe "the Big 12 will retain its status as an Autonomy 5 league."