UConn is reportedly a target for Big 12 expansion, but that comes with questions
Could the UConn Huskies soon call the Big 12 Conference home?
According to multiple reports, the University of Connecticut is an expansion target for conference, though, to be fair, only one of many.
Per Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, the Huskies occupy a tier behind that of the “Four Corners” schools in the Pac-12 — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
Meaning, if the Big 12 is unable to pry the Wildcats, Sun Devils, Buffaloes and Utes from the Pac-12, UConn, along with San Diego State and UNLV (Mountain West) and Memphis (American Athletic), would be next in line for induction into the Big 12.
Once again a member of the Big East, after years spent in the AAC, the Huskies are desirable, per The Athletic’s Max Olson.
“UConn men’s basketball’s title run this spring certainly sparked more interest for (Big 12 commissioner Brett) Yormark,” Olson writes, “and the school is viewed as a potential good fit for several strategic reasons. Championship-caliber men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are certainly high on that list of pros, but so is the opportunity to establish more of a presence in the New York City market.”
In the same breath, however, there are hurdles that would have to be overcome in order for UConn to join the Big 12.
Sources from both the Big East and AAC told The Athletic that UConn was frustrated as a member of the AAC, due in part to the “spread-out nature of the conference,” and celebrated its return to the Big East and its reunion with traditional rivals.
“They just worked so hard to get out of a league that required them to go play UCF just to go back to a league where they’ll have to go play UCF?” a Big East source told Olson. “I don’t see it.”
Moreover, in a statement to CT Insider, UConn athletic director David Benedict said, “The dialogue and the commentary out there, I totally appreciate and understand people’s opinions. Where they’re emotionally tied is probably evident when you see what people say and what their opinions are. But, obviously, we look at it with a different lens, internally, and there are a lot of factors you have to consider.
“At this point in time, I’m not aware of a decision in front of me that I have to make. So what’s going to happen two days from now, two weeks from now, a month from now, six months from now, is anyone’s guess. There’s a lot of posturing that’s going on around the country. There are a lot of conversations. But, ultimately, until you have to make a decision, you don’t know and that’s not where we currently are.”
Sources told both Sports Illustrated and The Athletic that Yormark continues to be aggressive in regards to expansion, whether it be attempting to poach Pac-12 schools or others, in an attempt to position the conference as the clear third best in the country, behind the powerhouses that are the Big Ten and SEC.
If UConn were to join the Big 12, the conference’s standing in men’s basketball would be unparalleled, given the sheer depth of quality programs that would call the conference home.
Whether or not the Huskies’ football program were to add any value is an entirely different story, though.
While the football team improved significantly in its first year under head coach Jim Mora Jr. last season, winning six games and becoming bowl eligible as an independent, UConn football hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2010, when it won a share of the Big East Conference championship and played Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Since then, the Huskies have won fewer than four games in seven seasons, including one-win campaigns in 2018 and 2021. Furthermore, UConn has had six coaches during said time frame, Mora being just the latest.