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Big 12 Commish Exploring Possibilities Of Forming Conference 'Alliances'

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby isn't actively searching for additional teams to add to the conference but it hasn't been ruled out.

The Big 12 athletic directors met on Monday and will convene again on Tuesday for a series of meetings dealing with the future of the league, including the potential benefits or drawbacks of adding schools to the conference.

And then there's the other option that has arisen – doing something in between. Not adding teams, but instead forming alliances with other conferences, namely the ACC.

The alliances would, as Bowlsby stated, provide "benefits and values seen with expansion" without cutting into the 10-team financial setup, which has proven beneficial to all 10 schools. The current financial structure is so lucrative in fact that Forbes reported $26.2 million per school, which is the highest of any conference in the country.

Current Big 12 members have signed over their television rights to the conference for the entirety of a lucrative 13-year contract with Fox and ESPN. Obviously, adding news teams into the mix cuts down on the financial benefits.

Bowlsby has stayed consistent in his idea that adding teams won't necessarily help the conference moving forward, presumably unless it were to be the right teams, like a potential Clemson and Florida State package.

But an alliance is something all-together different, and talks with the ACC are reportedly already in the "exploratory stages."

It would create, in theory, a 24-team conference while at the same time maintaining the Big 12 and ACC brands and existing contracts.

The alliance would create better scheduling options in all sports, a lower cost of scheduling per the agreement, marketing, and a possible – albeit farfetched – option down the road of a combined ACC/Big 12 Network.

While the benefits for football money is obviously the driving force behind all conference realignment, think of the potential basketball scheduling draws: North Carolina wandering into Gallagher-Iba Arena might start to fill seats again, same goes for Lloyd Noble should Syracuse or Duke be on the menu.

It would be an intriguing match, boosting fan interest, RPI ratings and BCS pedigrees along the way all with most cost effective scheduling and no sacrificing of TV contract dollars.

While adding two schools that would return the conference to its natural 12 seems to be the favored idea among fans and media, the alliance could be the best way of sidestepping it while benefiting the existing 10 members of the conference. That said, even with this new concept, Bowlsby has not ruled out the possibility of expansion.

Bowlsby and the Big 12 athletic directors will meet again on Tuesday to wrap up the two-day set of discussions in Irving, Texas.

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