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Notebook: USF’s Big 12 dreams suffer setback

USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan faces an uphill battle when it comes to Big 12 expansion.ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Executives from the Big 12 met Friday to discuss several key aspects of the conference, adding a championship game for the 2017 season and quelling any whispers of changing conference television networks. 

Adding a championship game put an end to the questions over Big 12 leaders’ willingness to adapt to the times, but only raised more questions about the conference’s plans for expansion. 

USF, which was demoted from the Big East to the AAC three years ago, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to join the Big 12 by various media outlets.

Athletic Director Mark Harlan said he’s been in discussion with other conference leaders about the potential for expansion, but has kept the contents of those discussions to himself.

While the addition of a championship game appeared to be a positive sign for expansion of the Big 12, the conference’s ties with the University of Texas’ TV station, Longhorn Network, which has a 20-year $295 million deal with ESPN, means the Big 12 won’t be looking for a new conference television network. 

Big 12 league chairman and University of Oklahoma president David Boren, who was a notable proponent of expansion last year, took a harder stance on the issue Friday. 

“When it comes to expansion, my principal concern is keeping us in a very competitive position with the other conferences, not only a competitive position athletically but also academically and financially,” Boren said to USA Today. “What are the methods of doing that? Expansion is one potential method, (but) it’s not the only method. I have no theological position on expansion.”

Conference leaders of the Big 12 will reconvene at the end of the summer to reach a preliminary agreement.


Men’s Basketball AAC pairings announced


The 11 members of the AAC will play an 18-game conference schedule, playing eight opponents twice and two once. 

For the 2016-17 season, USF will play both Houston and SMU only once, hosting the Cougars and playing at the Mustangs. 

The AAC tournament will begin March 9 and will feature all 11 teams. 

USF will return six players from last year’s roster after the graduation of Jaleel Cousins, Nehemias Morillo and Angel Nunez and the dismissal of Chris Perry and Roddy Peters. 


NCAA Championships await O’Neal


USF senior athlete Matthew O’Neal will try for a national championship for his fourth time at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Friday.

O’Neal, who will turn 22 on the day of competition, took second in the NCAA Indoor Championships this season with a jump of 54 feet 5 1/2 inches.

His most recent jump, which qualified him for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, was a personal best and school record at 55 feet 9 3/4 inches.

Following his performance Friday, O’Neal will set his sights on the Olympic Trials in Eugene, beginning July 1.