Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 | 3:40 p.m.
The Big 12 has whittled down its list of potential expansion teams and, as expected, UNLV was not among them. On Wednesday afternoon, UNLV President Len Jessup and Athletics Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy issued a joint statement thanking the Power 5 conference for its consideration.
“We have had discussions with a variety of stakeholders over the last several months and it has been tremendously beneficial,” the statement read. “UNLV is absolutely on the right path as we work to fulfill an ambitious vision for our university’s continued growth, both academically and athletically.
“Academically, the strategy to attain Top Tier status, the launch of the UNLV School of Medicine, as well as other academic initiatives, are viewed favorably. Athletically, the Big 12 underscored the importance of investment in infrastructure and facilities — especially for football.”
After more than 20 schools expressed interest in joining the Big 12, there are reportedly six to eight programs still in consideration. The list includes Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UConn, USF, UCF and two AAC schools.
The difference in money between the Power 5 leagues and a Group of 5 league like the Mountain West continues to grow every year, which means that every program wants to move up. So while the Rebels never had a realistic shot at joining the Big 12 at this time the process could prepare them for expansion down the road.