The Big 12 is engaged in plans to split into two seven-team divisions in football beginning in 2023 to temporarily restructure as a 14-team league as the realignment process unfolds, league sources tell CBS Sports.
Big 12 athletic directors — including those from conference newcomers BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF — met last month in Las Vegas to begin deciding how the league will look for two seasons (2023-24) ahead of Texas and Oklahoma departing for the SEC.
The Big 12 is operating under the assumption that both the Longhorns and Sooners will stay in the league four more years. The current Big 12 television contract with Fox and ESPN ends in 2025. If not, both schools would be subject to what have been projected as nine-figure early exit fees for breaking the Big 12 grant of rights that bind schools’ TV inventory to the conference.
Assuming BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join ahead of the 2023-24 athletic year, the league would be at 14 teams for two seasons in 2023 and 2024. The Big 12 would then shrink to 12 teams in football, playing in six-team divisions beginning in 2025.
“We’ve got subcommittees in several sports that are talking about structure,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports. “Conference office, staff, ADs, sports administrators and coaches involved on a sport-by-sport basis, they’re all doing the same thing.”
NCAA rules state that any league with more than 12 teams must split into divisions for football according to Big 12 senior associate commissioner Ed Stewart. The conference has operated as a 10-team league without divisions since 2017. Presently, the top two ranked teams play in the Big 12 Championship Game. In 2015, the NCAA allowed leagues with less than 12 teams to conduct championship…