Once viewed as a prime candidate for Big 12 expansion, Memphis is reportedly now no longer viewed as a possibility reports Brett McMurphy and Jake Trotter of ESPN.
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) September 2, 2016
According to McMurphy and Trotter, Memphis has been in recent talks with Big 12 officials—even engaging in video conferences with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
Many schools—including practically the whole American Athletic Conference—are making a pitch to be included in Big 12 expansion plans. The financial benefits and program visibility by joining the Big 12 would be a significant boon for a good amount of teams being considered.
Nonetheless, the Big 12 has been hunkering down and trimming candidates, and Memphis did not have what they were looking for—even for a school that boasts a tradition-rich basketball program.
Eleven schools are reportedly still in contention for an expansion bid and they include Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Colorado State, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane.
Next week in Dallas, representatives from each of those 11 schools will make in-person presentations to Big 12 officials, sources said. The league has said it hopes to make a decision on expansion by the Big 12’s regularly scheduled board of directors meeting on Oct. 17.
ESPN’s initial report indicated it could not confirm whether Memphis had made the cut. Multiple sources in the past two days verified that the Big 12’s expansion candidates had been reduced to 11 schools — and Memphis was not among them.
Memphis, under ex-coach Justin Fuente, enjoyed a recent revival and went 9-4 overall last season and 5-3 in ACC play.
The Tigers, now coached by Mike Norvell, will host Southeast Missouri State on Saturday in their season opener.