The American Athletic Conference appears to be the home of the University of Central Florida for the foreseeable future. In a press conference Monday evening, Big 12 Conference board of directors chairman David Boren announced the conference’s decision to remain at 10 member organizations.
The unanimous decision came following a board meeting that began on Sunday.
“The decision was unanimous,” Boren said. “All of the schools participated very actively in the decision. So once that decision was made, once we decided that this issue would no longer stay on the agenda, we decided to move on.”
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) October 17, 2016
“Since I arrived at UCF, I have been saying that we can be a nationally competitive, top-25 athletics program,” UCF vice president and director of athletics Danny White said in a statement. “I still believe that today. Our future success does not depend on our conference affiliation. It is based on our unlimited potential. The American Athletic Conference is a great league, and we’re very confident about our future in the American.”
It was Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby who initiated the discussion at the board meeting.
“I made one recommendation, and that was that we should bring this process to closure one way or the other; that we shouldn’t kick the can down the road,” Bowlsby said. “We have undertaken an extensive data analysis process. That’s the empirical part of what we did. There’s certainly another, more local element to the process, and each institution is expected to have their own sensitivities and their own priorities and their own perspectives on how that all fits together.
“Interestingly enough, our 10 presidents came together in unity.”
Bowlsby said he spoke to expansion candidates as recently as Monday afternoon, only hours before the press conference.
“I’ve spoken with the president or chancellor at every one of the candidate institutions repeatedly during the process including most recently this afternoon,” Bowlsby said. “The board did not make an expansion vote in July. They acted to charge me to go out and consider candidates, but there was no expansion vote taken. We were very careful to not have it construed as that. It was an exploratory process. The schools all self-selected. We went through a process that was, I think, thoughtful and respectful of the schools… It was a more transparent process than most of them have been.
“We wanted to be very careful not to commoditize great institutions and to view them as chess pieces on a board. We didn’t do that. And I think it was a public and transparent but highly respectful process.”
The Knights are 3-3 so far this season, following a 26-25 last-minute loss to conference opponent Temple University on Saturday.