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Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer 402d

Big 12 expansion 'not a sure thing,' OU president David Boren says

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TULSA, Okla. -- Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chair David Boren said Wednesday that Big 12 expansion is "not a sure thing" and that he is "not certain" there will be any decision on expansion at the league's next board meeting in October.

"I would just caution you and say, I would not take expansion as a given," Boren said after the university regents meeting on Oklahoma's campus in Tulsa. "I'm not saying there won't be expansion. But I'm not saying it can be automatically assumed that there will be expansion."

The Big 12 announced in July that it was authorizing commissioner Bob Bowlsby to explore expansion and begin negotiation with potential candidates.

Last week, conference leaders met with officials from 11 candidates in Dallas for roughly two hours apiece, sources told ESPN.com.

"They've all done an excellent job at putting their best foot forward and showing their strengths," Boren said of the list of expansion finalists, which comprise Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Rice, SMU, South Florida and Tulane. "The question at the end of the day is, can we say with certainty, that expansion would add strength to the conference? I think there's a lot of discussion that will have to go on before we reach that decision."

One of the impetuses for expansion has been the pro rata clauses that were written in the current contracts that mandate Big 12 television partners ESPN and Fox pay the conference up to $25 million a year for each member the league adds.

Boren said that while the pro rata bumps are motivation for expansion, they're also a concern.

"We do have a relationship to maintain, not only short term, but long term with the networks," Boren said. "When you have a partnership and you have a friendship, it isn't just for today, it's long term. And I think you have to think about long-term implications in any action we take. If we were to expand by two teams, four teams, that has financial implications for the networks. I think we have to see if that adds to the long-term stability or not."

The Big 12 presidents are scheduled to meet again Oct. 17 in Irving, Texas, where expansion likely will be the hot topic.

Even though Bowlsby has encouraged the league not to drag out the expansion discussion, Boren said it was unlikely that there would be a special meeting before October, and that the league was "not going to rush into any particular decision."

"I'm not certain there will be a decision at the October board meeting on expansion at this time," he said. "We're going to look at every way in which we can make the conference stronger and better. But I'm not sure the automatic answer to that is expansion.

"The situation is still pretty fluid."

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