TCU made it official Monday night, leaving the Big East without ever playing a game to accept an invitation to join the Big 12.
The news was expected after news broke last week that the Big 12 had extended an invitation to the Horned Frogs. Their departure leaves the Big East with six football-playing schools, though the conference said in multiple statements that it would move quickly to fill its ranks.
“Although never having competed as a member of the Big East conference, we are disappointed with the news that TCU is joining the Big 12," commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement. "As noted earlier today, our presidents met via teleconference this morning to focus on the future and have authorized us to engage in formal expansion discussions with additional institutions. We anticipate taking action in the near future.”
TCU decided to leave the Mountain West for the Big East last November, and was set to begin play in the league in 2012. But after Pitt and Syracuse left for the ACC, and Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC, an opportunity opened up for the Horned Frogs to play much closer to home in what appears to be a more stable conference. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said this about departing the Big East:
“While this is indeed an incredible day for the Horned Frog Nation, we need to recognize the Mountain West and Big East. The Mountain West has been a great home to TCU, enabling our athletics program to grow and be in position to receive and accept an invitation to join the Big 12. We are also appreciative of the Big East for providing an opportunity for TCU. We have great respect for the leadership of the Big East and all its members.
“The Big 12 is a perfect fit for TCU. With our historical ties to Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech, as well as the close proximity to the other league members, we couldn’t be more excited to have the Big 12 as our new home."
The Big East must now look for new members, and raised the possibility Monday of expanding to 12 teams. One that recently came up as a potential football-only member was Boise State. The Boston Globe reported the Broncos were one team that was under consideration, but that appears to be a long shot.
Boise State president Bob Kustra released a statement Monday night that read, “While we are certainly flattered to be mentioned in connection with other conferences, and we hold those leagues in high regard, our current focus is on continuing to build the outstanding athletic programs that have helped make Boise State a popular and compelling national brand.
“The landscape of college athletics is exceptionally fluid, and we are continuing to monitor the situation. We are confident that Boise State will be well positioned for future success, and we will evaluate our status with the best interests of the entire university in mind. Boise State’s athletic achievements, academic and research successes, popularity, and vision for future growth make the university an extremely valuable conference partner.”
Navy, Air Force and Army have been mentioned as football-only members, while UCF, Temple and East Carolina also have been mentioned.