By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ TCU has accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference.
The widely anticipated announcement came after TCU trustees met Monday.
The move is expected to provide some much-needed stability to the Big 12, which lost Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) over the summer and will lose Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference next year. Missouri is also exploring a move to the SEC.
In TCU, the Big 12 gets the defending Rose Bowl champion Horned Frogs — a BCS-busting team that finished No. 2 last season after a 13-0 season. Several Big 12 coaches welcomed the idea.
“TCU has earned that right. They’ve won as much as anybody. I think they are very deserving,” Texas coach Mack Brown told reporters in Austin.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose staff recruits heavily in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, echoed those sentiments.
“I think it’s great, you know? They’re an excellent program,” Stoops said. “You see what they’ve been doing throughout the year. I love the proximity for the fans. It’s another game that’s relatively close and in this region, so I think it’s great. It’s going to work out well.”
TCU currently competes in the Mountain West Conference and was set to join the Big East next July. Instead, the Big 12 went public with its interest in TCU last week; because it isn’t yet a Big East member, TCU wouldn’t be required to give 27 months’ notice to leave, though it would need to pay a $5 million exit fee, according to conference policy.
Losing TCU is just the latest piece of bad news for the Big East, where school leaders on Monday authorized the conference to add enough members to have 12 teams for football. With Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East would be down to six football schools without TCU: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Connecticut.
SEC leaders met Monday for their regularly scheduled fall session but took no action on expansion. The league will have 13 members once Texas A&M joins in July, leading to speculation about whether Missouri or other schools will be added to balance things out.
As for the Big 12, adding TCU would leave it with only nine members going into next season without further changes.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he has “always been in favor of a Big 12 Conference with 12 teams, and two divisions and a championship.”
Snyder said he would be sad if Missouri decides to leave.
“They’ve been a part of the conference ever since I’ve been in it. There’s been some great relationships,” Snyder said. “I think it’s been good for them from a football standpoint, a basketball standpoint. They add an awful lot to the conference and you know, I’m just hoping they choose to stay.”
AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth and Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo., and Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno in Austin contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)