It appears Memphis has quite the pitch for its inclusion in an expanded Big 12.
According to documents obtained by ESPN, Memphis-based FedEx is willing to become a “major” sponsor for the conference, provided Memphis joins the fold. On top of that, FedEx chairman Fred Smith wrote in a letter to Memphis president David Rudd that the company would be willing to sponsor a potential Big 12 championship game.
“We strongly support the university’s efforts to become a member of an expanded Big 12 athletic conference,” Smith wrote in the Feb. 23 letter. “In support of (Memphis’) Big 12 aspirations, we have researched college conference sponsorships and are prepared to become a major Big 12 sponsor of football and basketball.”
When reached by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Smith confirmed the veracity of the letter and said he hopes FedEx’s involvement “helps” the Tigers earn an invitation to the Big 12.
Rudd sent Smith’s letter, along with a letter of his own, to West Virginia president Gordon Gee, who is one of three Big 12 presidents on the conference’s composition committee. In Rudd’s letter, according to ESPN.com, he vowed that Memphis would “make a $500 million investment in academic and athletic infrastructure over the next five years.”
Memphis, of course, isn’t the only school lobbying for an invitation to the Big 12. ESPN.com’s report also details communication between Gee and officials from Houston, UCF and Colorado State. Notably, Gee took a trip to Houston’s campus in November.
UConn, BYU and Cincinnati are among the other universities vying for a spot in the league, which recently hired an analytics firm to see how expansion (and a championship game) would impact its chances of putting a team in the College Football Playoff. Predictably, growing to a 12-member league and adding a championship game would be beneficial to its CFP chances, commissioner Bob Bowlsby said earlier this month.
The Big 12 presidents and athletic directors are scheduled to meet later this month in Irving, Texas, and expansion will surely be a major point of discussion. Fielding a title game and creating a conference television network will also likely be on the agenda.
For more Memphis news, TigerSportsReport.com.
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