According to an article in SB Nation, while the board of directors of the Big 12 did not formally announce a decision to expand, they “have given commissioner Bob Bowlsby the green light to ‘actively evaluate’ the interest of those who might want to join the conference.” After months of back and fourth, it looks better than ever that the Big 12 Conference will add either two or four new teams.
A leading candidate is BYU with a solid football following. With BYU’s apparent eagerness to join the Big 12, the conference is likely to be required to move all their athletic programs to the Big 12.
The Cougars are members of the West Coast Conference and are currently an independent in football. This move is likely to open up a slot in the non-football West Coast Conference. DU’s solid athletic department is only held back by an average basketball program and middling RPI but is in the process of a transformation under Rodney Billups. Denver’s potential competition for the soon-to-be open slot is Seattle U while some WCC fans want Grand Canyon University – an unlikely match for the conference. UC-San Diego is also said to be exploring a move to DI.
The West Coast Conference, with academic peer schools Pepperdine and Santa Clara, have membership that aligns ideally with the University of Denver. Loyola-Marymount, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s have rich basketball histories and Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego are big city schools like DU.
In addition to paying a league entry fee, DU would likely need to add several sports as well.The West Coast Conference is one of the few league options that does not offer football.
|Gonzaga University||Spokane, WA||7,275|
|Loyola Marymount University||Los Angeles, CA||9,015|
|University of the Pacific||Stockton, CA||6,196|
|Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA||7,170|
|University of Portland||Portland, CA||3,670|
|Saint Mary’s College||Moraga, CA||3,810|
|University of San Diego||San Diego, CA||7,835|
|University of San Francisco||San Francisco, CA||8,775|
|Santa Clara University||Santa Clara, CA||7,990|
The only other non-football possibilities would be becoming a full member of the Big East (a BIG reach) or the creation of a new conference with ‘like schools’.
Time will tell if DU has a genuine interest in the West Coast Conference and vice versa but this looks like a one-time opportunity for DU to get into the WCC.