A: When the Big 12 conference continues to have ten member schools ... rejecting the idea of expanding its membership after nearly three months of speculation.
The idea of expanding the conference was introduced in July -- with the idea of adding two new members to return to a roster of 12 schools, or perhaps adding four members to increase to 14 -- and it ended Monday night at a press conference featuring Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and University of Oklahoma president David Boren at the conclusion of all-day talks Monday.
Big 12 conference officials held interviews in September with Air Force and Colorado State from the Mountain West; Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, South Florida, SMU (Southern Methodist University) and Tulane from the American Athletic Conference; and BYU (Brigham Young University), which is a football independent with its other sports in the West Coast Conference.
While the issue of adding new schools was driven by football, the Big 12 has a long legacy of success in wrestling going back decades (with conference member Oklahoma State No. 1 in the latest InterMat pre-season NCAA Division I rankings) ... with the possibility that a newly-expanded Big 12 might have had a positive impact on growing the sport at major universities that don't have intercollegiate wrestling programs.
In fact, of the ten candidate schools interviewed, only Air Force currently has a Division I wrestling program ... and the Falcon wrestling program is already an affiliate member of the Big 12. In March 2016, Air Force competed in the Big 12 conference wrestling championships for the first time, along with fellow affiliate members North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, Utah Valley, and Wyoming.
These six wrestling programs that are new affiliate members of the Big 12 join the four full-fledged members of the conference that offer intercollegiate wrestling -- Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia -- for a total of ten wrestling programs competing at the Big 12 conference wrestling championships.
With only four fully-affiliated Big 12 schools offering intercollegiate wrestling, that means six members of the conference do not offer intercollegiate wrestling: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU (Texas Christian), Texas and Texas Tech. Some of these schools -- including Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas -- once had Division I mat programs but have not offered intercollegiate wrestling in decades.
Through much of the history of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships, Big 12 schools took home a large percentage of NCAA team trophies. From the first championships in 1928 through the mid-1970s, three Big 12 schools -- Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Iowa State -- took home the lion's share of NCAA team titles. However, in the past 40 years or so, most NCAA team titles have been won by Big Ten schools, including Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, and Ohio State. The last Big 12 program to be crowned NCAA team champs: Oklahoma State, in 2006.