GRAPEVINE, Texas — Big 12 Conference athletic directors discussed ways during their meeting Tuesday to stabilize their league before they can determine if and how much they might expand.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard, the chairman of the Big 12 athletic directors, said there were "healthy discussions" about what might happen numbers-wise in the future.
"There's a lot of possibilities. It could be nine, it could be 10, it could be 12, it could be 16, pick a number," Pollard said.
"I think what we're more focused on is doing what we all believe is right for the membership of the Big 12, and the most important piece right now is the solidarity among the nine and finding a way to make sure that we provide that solidarity so that we can be stabilized before we entertain whether that should be nine, 10, 12, 16."
The regularly scheduled fall meeting of the Big 12 athletic directors came a day after Texas A&M was formally introduced as the SEC's 13th member, a move that takes effect for the 2012-13 school year. The Aggies are the third member to leave in the past 15 months.
Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) began play in their new leagues this season.
Newly appointed interim commissioner Chuck Neinas took part in the meeting even though he will not officially take over his new role until next Monday.
Pollard, who spoke on behalf of the league, said there is a process for stabilization. He wouldn't go into specifics but said there was a clear consensus among the nine schools on the items discussed.
"Ultimately, we have to prove it because there will always be doubters," he said. "All I can say is the people we were locking arms with in that room feel pretty committed to me. I take people on their word. I'm not worried about it at all."
Pollard said formal agreements to ensure stability were "still a work in progress" but insisted that "all nine member institutions are fully engaged and committed" to putting those together.
He said everything would have to go through the normal chain of command with decisions made by the league's board of directors, which is made up of the presidents and chancellors of the member schools.
The athletic directors spent a lot of time talking about ways to provide input to a special four-member committee appointed by the league's board that is working on initiatives designed to provide solidarity and stability to the Big 12's future.
That committee will be made up of the presidents or chancellors of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Iowa State.
When the nearly four-hour meeting ended late Tuesday, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds declined comment and referred all questions to Pollard.
"It's a crazy time," said Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, who also deferred to Pollard.
There have been persistent rumors that Missouri might be a possibility to follow Texas A&M to the SEC.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive, though, reiterated Tuesday that his league's presidents and chancellors are not currently considering any other schools for admission and that Texas A&M was the only one to submit an application. Slive said he anticipates having just 13 members in 2012-13.
Pollard said there wasn't much time spent talking about what other leagues were saying or doing and that the focus was on what the remaining nine Big 12 schools needed to do to make their league viable for an extended period.
"You go through these processes and it's an inward look, and each institution has to figure out what really matters to them, and you come out of it I think stronger on the other side. It feels like that today," Pollard said.
"The nine of us in that room, we've been through a lot together, an awful lot together. Our obituary has been written several times and hasn't come to fruition, and I think that's strengthened us, and we said this a year ago, that ultimately we have to prove it."
Oklahoma president David Boren said last week that the nine remaining schools had "agreed" to give a six-year grant of their first- and second-tier television rights to the Big 12 for the next six years.
That means all revenue from the top television games — shown currently on networks owned by ABC/ESPN and Fox — would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school left for another league.
The six-year term runs past the next negotiating period for the top-tier contract, currently with ABC/ESPN, in a bid to keep the nine schools together for the next contract.
While Pollard again didn't get into specifics about what the athletic directors talked about regarding those TV rights, he said, "Everybody has been very forthcoming about doing what we know we need to do in order to get the stability that this league so deserves."