Sources: Big 12 cuts expansion list to at least 12

10:55 PM ET

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    • College football reporter for ESPN
    • Nominated for Pulitzer Prize in 2010
    • Graduate of Oklahoma State University
  • CloseESPN Staff Writer
    • Covers the Big 12
    • Joined in 2011
    • Graduate of Washington Lee University

The Big 12 has narrowed its list of expansion candidates to at least 12 schools, sources told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy and Jake Trotter.

The 12 schools are: Air Force, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU, Temple and Tulane.

Eight of the candidates still alive in the Big 12’s expansion sweepstakes are members of the American Athletic Conference: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, South Florida, SMU, Temple and Tulane. Air Force and Colorado State are Mountain West members, Rice is in Conference USA and BYU is an independent.

While at least a dozen schools made the cut, several others did not, including Arkansas State, Boise State, East Carolina, New Mexico, Northern Illinois, San Diego State and UNLV, sources said.

ESPN could not confirm if Memphis, which was also under consideration by the league, made the cut.

As part of the next step in the process, representatives from each school will make in-person presentations to Big 12 officials in Dallas next week, sources said.

The league has said it hopes to make a decision on expansion by the Big 12’s regularly scheduled board of directors meeting on Oct. 17.

The league trimmed its group of potential candidates by nearly one-third. Nearly two dozen schools that were interested in joining the league conducted video conferences with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in the past two weeks.

Sources have said that it’s “becoming less and less likely” that the league would expand to 14 teams. The most likely scenario is the Big 12 stays at 10 teams or adds only two schools for a 12-team league with two six-team divisions, sources said.

East Carolina, which was one of the schools hoping for a Big 12 invitation, was the first school to publicly acknowledge that it had been eliminated. UNLV and New Mexico officials also said they were no longer in the running.

“While it is obviously not the decision we were hoping for, I am confident ECU put forth its best effort during this process,” ECU athletic director Jeff Compher said in a statement on Wednesday. “Through a determined approach we were able to tell our story to not only the Big 12, but the entire nation.”

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