Big 12 hopes dashed for University of Houston, Rice University

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The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors announced that the athletic body would retain its current membership of 10 institutions, a unanimous decision.

"I'm surprised, because all of them are intelligent men," said San Antonio-based business owner Red McCombs in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "I don't know what on God's earth would cause them to take a position like that. There's no validity to it, so who knows? You find out, put it on the air. I'd be glad to hear it." 

"They made a mistake -- it's a terrible decision," added McCombs. "They pile one mistake on top of another. The University of Houston belongs in there, and you go pick up Cincinnati, you could do that too. You had to get the University of Houston. That'll cost them in time because Texas and Oklahoma will fly out of the mist. Then they won't have any damn thing.

"I don't want to say they were disingenuous," said University of Houston Board of Regents Chair Tilman Fertitta during a Skype interview with FOX 26. "I think you have a bunch of people in the room that can't make a decision. When you have the networks at the same time trying to get in there and trade at the same time what's best for them financially, and at the same time, you're trying to make an expansion decision, I don't think it's anybody's fault. I think it's just a hard thing to put together this day and time."

Fertitta further defended his position by saying:

Somebody wants the University of Houston. It's not just the Big 12 out there. There are other conferences. You're going to look up, whether it be next year, the year after or whenever. The University of Houston is going to be in a Power Five conference.

"I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed and I know the whole University of Houston fan base is disappointed," added Fertitta. "The alumni are disappointed. The administration is disappointed. We're definitely not angry. We're just really disappointed, because you know just where you belong."

"It's extremely disappointing," said Fertitta. "We know the University of Houston is qualified from an academic and an athletic standpoint. You'd almost (want) expansion and us not being included than to have no expansion at all, because it would have told you something. I'm just shocked we went through this process and nothing happened. There's so many variables with television and a lot of different presidents and interim presidents right now, but to go through the whole process and to know where you belong, we're extremely disappointed." 

"I've always believed that because of the type of institution that we are, the reputation that we have internationally, that we would be attracted to a number of different partners," said Rice University Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard about the Big 12 Conference decision not to expand and the fact that Rice was an expansion candidate. "You think about Rice is the 15th-ranked institution in the country, according to U.S. News, the endowment and the quality of our faculty and our students, it's not surprising, that whether you're talking about an athletic league or membership in the AAU or other academic circles, that our institution would be one that would be considered for membership by anybody."

"We had our eye on the process from the get-go," added Karlgaard. "I think today what we learned is that we're likely going to be in a stable environment for the short term, and that I think really turns the focus at Rice back inward. We have to figure out how to continue to grow and promote our brand.

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