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If there really are two teams that want back into the Big 12 Conference, as Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder said in July, Colorado isn’t one of them.
The Buffaloes, who left the Big 12 in 2011, aren’t interested in leaving the Pac-12, CU athletic director Rick George told BuffZone.com.
“We’re proud to be in the (Pac-12) Conference,” George said. “I can’t see any reason that we would want to go back to the Big 12 at this point. We have not even had a discussion about that.”
During Big 12 football media days in Dallas, the Big 12 announced plans to pursue expanding from its current membership of 10 schools. On Tuesday, Snyder said, “I tell you what, there are teams that left our conference right now that wish they could get back in the conference.”
Snyder didn’t say which schools want back in, but he said, “Two I know of.”
CU and Nebraska left the Big 12 in the summer of 2011, with CU going to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten. In 2012, Missouri and Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, while the Big 12 added TCU and West Virginia.
Snyder’s comment has left many speculating which two schools would want back in. Most have put CU at the top of the list, citing the Buffs’ struggles on the football field as a main reason.
Five years after its move, however, CU has no regrets.
CU has a much broader alumni base in the Pac-12 footprint than in the Big 12, and has been able to connect more with their alums because of being in the conference.
“One of the biggest advantages from an athletic standpoint is the way we’re connected with our recruiting areas and with our alumni in California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington,” George said. “We have so many alumni on the West Coast, it really connects us. From that standpoint, it’s really important.
“From an institution standpoint, I think (chancellor Phil DiStefano) would probably tell you that there’s a lot of other research institutions like ours (in the Pac-12) and being able to be in that kind of company I think is important for us.”
Fundraising has increased since the move to the Pac-12 was announced in June 2010. Since George was hired as athletic director in 2013, the athletic program has raised more than $100 million, a large portion of which has gone toward the $166 million facility upgrade project, which has transformed the department.
Earlier this year, BuffZone.com asked associate athletic director Kurt Gulbrand, who coordinates fundraising efforts, if CU would be in as good of a position financially and with its facilities had it stayed in the Big 12.
“No, not at all,” he said.
Both conferences had nearly identical distribution numbers for the 2014-15 school year, with the Big 12 distributing $25.2 million per school and the Pac-12 distributing $25.1 million per school.
“We’re happy with the distribution that we’re getting from the conference,” George said.
The Big 12 recently announced a big jump for the 2015-16 school year, distributing an average of $30.4 million to its members. The Pac-12’s distribution numbers for 2015-16 are not likely to be released until next spring.
CU was a member of the Big 12 from 1949 to 2011 (counting the years when the conference was the Big Seven and then the Big Eight).
As the Big 12 looks to expand, several schools are in the running, with BYU and Cincinnati as the possible favorites. Others, including Colorado State, Central Florida, Connecticut, Houston and Memphis, are in the mix.
Brian Howell: twitter.com/BrianHowell33.