Big 12 Agrees to ‘actively evaluate’ Prospective Members

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.

Institution Location Enrollment
BYU Provo, UT 32,955
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.

25 thoughts on “Big 12 Agrees to ‘actively evaluate’ Prospective Members”

  1. I don’t think we necessarily need to add additional sports. We already have 2 hoops, 2 tennis, 2 golf, 2 soccer, volleyball, swimming. 10 teams should be enough. (guessing WCC fields teams in above mentioned sports) Current WCC members St. Mary’s and San Diego need women’s lax affiliation now. Maybe they join us in the Big East. Possibly 1-2 WCC schools might add men’s lax and we can come in handy there in some shape or form.
    Basketball history of WCC teams. USF has the best; it’s just not recent. 2 National Championships plus Hall of Famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. USF does have a great bball tradition. DU might want to add beach volleyball. That would instantly be one of the most popular sports at DU. Also, cross country and rowing could be a possibility. Baseball likely a non-starter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The expansion of the Big 12 could offer about 3 potential new homes for DU athletics.
    1. The WCC if BYU goes to the Big 12, as said by others their maybe competition from Seattle, GrandCanyon(doubt it) or UC San Diego( doubt it for all other WCC schools are private.) I think that we will need to add baseball for the WCC. The new partnership with South High could open the way for us to build a baseball facility. The other candidates mentioned for the WCC already have baseball programs. What we give the WCC is strength in all the sports we bring to them and our 8 Directors Cups. With the exception of Gonzaga and St. Mary’s our bb programs RPI over the past 5-6 years is at about the same level of the other WCC schools and they are looking to improve their overall conference RPI.

    2. Missouri Valley if CSU were to go to the Big 12 and Witchita State were to replace them. There is a good split of public and private schools. More of a Midwestern Conference but is a step up from the Summit

    3. Mountain West if CSU and/or Boise go to the Big 12. The MWC might consider DU if CSU leaves and only Air Force is left from Colorado. If this were a possibility it does offer lots of regional rivaleries especially if CSU stays

    I think the only thing that will hold us back from moving to a better fit all sports conference will be the mediocre Men’s bb performance ,over all but 2-3 years since we moved up to DI. I am not sure the hiring of Billups is enough without some success. This period of potential opportunity for us to finally move to may be a couple of years early for now we are still all talk in basketball and Billups may need a few years to recruit the type of players needed to win in the Summitt. It should be an interesting couple of months.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. DU and WCC baseball: I just don’t see it being a deciding factor unless WCC needs to add a baseball team so they have enough baseball schools to have a conference tourney and a automatic NCAA bid. Whether a WCC school plays 34 or 38 OOC games is immaterial. All college baseball teams play tons of OOC games.
    We have a baseball history young alums. Former DU pitcher Dan Schatzader won a world series game for the Minnesota Twins. Former late great Pioneer Jerry Causey once hit a home run from the front of Halls (old home plate) on the fly to the top of the wall on the old hockey arena (now front of Ritchie center). Over the right center field fence, over the parking lot, and 50′ high on DU Arena. At 6’7″ and 310 pounds, the legend of “The Cause” continues to grow. Along with myself, former hoopsters Doug Funk and Moses Brewer witnessed the mammoth blow. Denver sports radio personality Irv Brown was at the game and reported the home run to be “2 football fields and then some”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If The Big 12 takes BYU as a football-only member (which they might), then DU isn’t likely to get the open WCC slot. Seems to me with BYU, Cincinnati, Uconn, and Houston in the running, CSU is probably a long shot for the Big 12. Hope something good shakes out for the Pios…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Regarding BYU, why would the Big 12 consider them as a ‘football only’ associate member? Wouldn’t the conference want all of BYU’s sports?

      Agreed on the rest, though…

      The way I see it, the only glimmer of hope for CSU’s Big 12 dreams is the fact that Texas may stomp its feet and refuse to split the in-state pie with another school – thereby leaving Houston out in the cold….er, humidity. It’s never freaking cold in Houston.

      Anyway. Yeah. No way CSU gets into the Big 12 unless Texas punts Houston from consideration….which it may…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I, too, have thought this would (at least, on paper…) make some sense – particularly now that Notre Dame has joined the Big 10 in hockey.

        Big East lacrosse features Hopkins and Maryland – two perennial powerhouse (and occasional final four caliber) programs; and would, top to bottom, represent an upgrade from Big East competition. Additionally, there is absolutely no doubt that adding DU lax would immediately raise the profile of the Big 10 in the college lacrosse world.

        That said, adding another top flight program might make Maryland and Hopkins winge a bit, as the three would incessantly beat each-other up in conference play, possibly hurting national tournament seedings. Also, there are currently 6 Big 10 lacrosse programs and adding a 7th might make for some scheduling weirdness during conference play…but, honestly, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in particle physics to make that work.

        As far as hockey goes, if DU could somehow swing it, moving to the Big 10 is a complete no-brainer. From an exposure standpoint, the Big 10 is THE preeminent conference in college hockey. This helps recruiting, puts butts in the seats, and keeps the media talking about the sport…and the member schools. True, the member schools haven’t exactly shown up on the ice, yet…but with the TV money flowing in from hoops and football, I have to believe that it’s only a matter of time before the Big 10 starts tonleverage that muscle when it comes to hockey and makes some serious (and prolonged…) noise in the NCAAs.

        Assuming everything else were equal, I’d take DU, North Dakota and Omaha, and put them in the Big 10. That would make 10 teams – 5 (DU, NoDak, Omaha, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) in a western division; and the other 5 (Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State) in an eastern division. Scheduling would be easy and travel would be no worse than it is right now. Oh…and Lucia would do cartwheels, because he’d have his biggest rival back and he never thought the BTHC was a good idea in the first place.

        I mean, just imagine getting Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State into Magness every year! Not to mention the annual return of Bucky and Goldie….all while still keeping NoDak and Omaha. From a hockey fan’s standpoint, it couldn’t get much better. Attendance would go up. Community interest would go up. And DU’s national profile would go up. All extremely good things.

        Yes. Yes, there would be substantial downside to this – most of which would be attributable to the fact that DU would go from being a leader of a hockey-only conference that IT (along with North Dakota) STARTED, to being an associate member of a conference that makes no bones about the fact that it is primarily a football and basketball conference, with little attention payed to “those other sports”. Put differently, DU would go from driving its flagship sport’s conference bus, to sitting in the back seat, waiting for it to get to wherever its going. Though I’d ultimately be in favor of DU to the Big 10, this aspect of the situation would definitely raise some red flags for me…particularly considering what the Big 10 tried to do to college hockey last year.

        Oh. And it would absolutely mean leaving CC on the dance floor. Sure, they’d still play for the Gold Pan every year, but it would probably have to be a single weekend, home-and-home, total goals type of thing.

        And, yes, I know that, despite my earlier post positing that “institutional compatibility” may not be such a big deal any more, such an alignment would mark a MONUMENTAL shift in Big 10 philosophy when it comes to conference membership.

        So, it probably won’t happen.

        But, damnit, it’d be awesome if it did….

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Not at this point. They are happy with the Big East and NCHC. Of course, gymnastics is an affiliate in the Big 12. DU does not meet the Big 10 profile. The closest logical affiliate match would be the Mountain West. CC women’s soccer is an affiliate. Still, without football, unlikely.


      1. Hmmm….

        Johns Hopkins doesn’t really fit the Big 10 profile…and neither does Notre Dame…..

        I understand that both of those schools, for various reasons, could be considered outliers when it comes to conference membership evaluation, but still….it seems the recent shifts in affiliation are beginning to consider more concrete measures like competitiveness and television market potential, in addition to nebulous concepts like “institutional compatibility”…

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Adding Baseball/Softball (they would probably need to be added togther for Title IX proportionaly, or perhaps DU would add women’s hockey instead of softball) is probably a $2-3 million-ish expense to get started for DU before they even get to the facility issues/upgrades.

    The easiest facility fix here is for DU to upgrade the existing HS baseball and softball facilities at South High School to NCAA standards, in return for preferential scheduling with Denver Public Schools as a shared facility. This fits the strategic plan well in terms of better integrating with the community.

    The downsides of this are that DPS stadia are across I-25 and not on the DU campus, and the fact that baseball is a bad college sport in Colorado, due to weather, few local teams to play and a substandard recruiting area,

    Long term, if DU is serious about an athletic partnership with DPS, perhaps the best way to show it would be raise the money for a DU-branded footbridge across the Interstate to connect the community to the campus and vice versa. DU should also look into the feasibility of upgrading the current DPS football stadium at South HS to be a 5,000-10,000 seat home for DU field sports, especially for those games requiring larger seating capacity than the pair of 2,000 capacity stadiums on campus – Barton Stadium (lax) or Ciber Field (soccer). This way, DU alleviates the need for on-campus athletic expansion (which si already putting pressure on the current neighborhood) while helping the local community by giving DPS students NCAA level facilties…


    1. I could certainly be wrong, but I can’t imagine that much hand-wringing going on in the WCC over a non-revenue generating sport like baseball.

      If the WCC wants DU, the lack of a baseball team shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. IF Du were to play athletic games across I25, with or without a foot bridge, I wouldn’t be in favor of it and probably wouldn’t attend. And realistically, DU undergrad students wouldn’t either. This isn’t 20-25 years ago. People really think DU students would walk, or drive, to a high school for a game? Please.


  8. The reality is that DU does not have any more room for fields. If DU were to be required to add a new sport such as baseball, South High School would be the best option. The new tennis center will accommodate DU tennis and public league tennis as well at South High. This collaboration in tennis is just the beginning – DU will be looking for private and public partnerships in many areas under Chancellor Chopp.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps. But DU is essentially out of options when it comes to on-campus athletic facility expansion.

      To whit, all of the recent to-do about expanding the lacrosse seating capacity – can’t expand onto the cable center grounds, can’t fill in the city storm water retention area, can’t get rid of the practice/intramural fields to the west of the soccer field. There is simply no place to go.

      And now people want them to shoe-horn a Division 1 caliber baseball stadium and associated batting cages/training areas into the current campus layout?



  9. “Some people” want a baseball program, based on vague notions of how to get DU into another league. Who’s going to fund a baseball program? What women’s sports will have to be added.
    Again, “some people” want to expand Barton. I can guarantee you Tierney will never play a lax game in a high school’s stadium near DU’s campus.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ring, you nailed it on hockey. Nobody cares about the similarity of an affiliate school for 1 sport. Starting back in the 60’s, DU has been in leagues with Big 10 schools.
    Not sure how I feel about Big 10 lax. 4 BIG schools playing catch up to DU, MD, and HOP, might not be to BIG’s liking. Okay, yes, I’d love it. However, we probably stand a better chance of getting offered the 6th spot in the ACC. Odd number of league teams where there are more then 5 teams can cause scheduling difficulties in a 13-14 game season.

    Glad fans are contributing this summer. Thanks 5bwest for stirring the pot

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks Dunks. This issue always stirs the pot. With the timing of the Big 12 announcement and BYU as the clear front-runner, this was a must have conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A footbridge at the University of Denver light rail station, would actually place the DPS baseball field as close to the DU campus as the Ritchie Center is from Centennial Towers today, and would be an even shorter walk than J-Mac is to the Ritchie Center today. It would also give DU an amazing branding opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of cars passing underneath on I-25 each day with electronic message boards. If DU actually spent the money to develop DPS stadiums to a D-I level with party decks, suites, tailgate capability, etc I don’t think the DU students and others would mind walking across the footbridge that much, but they would have to make the new facilities seem like part of the campus.


  13. Atlanta Pio, great find by you. Nice reading a unbiased article where the reporter thinks DU is #1 for WCC inclusion. Too bad the writer didn’t mention our men’s lacrosse success and our ladies ties to current WCC members USD and St. Mary’s. Hope someone from here makes contact with the writer so we can get updates early and often. BYU sure comes across pretty smug; a la Notre Dame.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Change of heart. I just looked at the sports offered and schedules of what schools will remain in the WCC should BYU totally split. We don’t give the WCC much of a boost.
    Negatives or not much kick- Mens and ladies tennis and golf. Their schools play in national tournaments just like us. No head to head competition until conference tournament. Same for swimming. No revenues, big expenses. Same for women’s volleyball. Seattle is less travel. None or little ladies gymnastics.
    Pluses or not big deals- baseball. WCC teams play 55 or so games, but only 21 in conference. They can easily add 3 additional OOC games. We don’t get excluded because of baseball.
    Hoops- might help the WCC with regional TV exposure. Zags rule. Our ladies hoops only add an expense. Soccer. Maybe WCC gets additional school in NCAA’s. Portland is their only power. Attendance is low, so extra travel will be costly.

    I just don’t see why they would fall in love with DU. Like maybe, but not love.
    BYU can save money by keeping all sports besides Football in WCC. if BYU wants big 12 hoops, WCC tells them to take a hike and bring all the non-revenue sports with you. BYU becomes useless.

    Curious about beach volleyball. Do the same women who play indoors in the fall play beach in the spring? Too lazy to look that up.

    Hope the above makes some sense. WCC, Good for DU hoops. Instant and continued credibility. We will be able to bring in west coast players we can now not touch.


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