Maybe Big 12 expansion talks aren’t completely dead.
The Big 12 will add Fresno State and Northern Iowa as affiliate members exclusively for wrestling, the conference announced on Wednesday. The additions move the wrestling circuit up to 12 teams.
“We are excited to add Fresno State and Northern Iowa as affiliate members in the sport of wrestling,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement “We already compete at a high national level in the sport and look forward to welcoming coaches, student-athletes and fans from each institution.”
Only four full-member Big 12 schools compete in wrestling: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and West Virginia. The conference boasts a hodgepodge of affiliates to round out the conference. They also include Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming.
Oklahoma State captured the Big 12 title in dominant fashion last season for their fifth straight conference title. The Cowboys ranked No. 2 in the nation. Northern Iowa ranked No. 14 in the same poll. Oklahoma (18) and South Dakota State (19) also made appearances.
“We are extremely excited that our wrestling program has been accepted into the Big 12 Conference as an affiliate member,” said UNI Athletics Director David Harris. “The Big 12 is one of the best conferences in all of college athletics and it contains some of the very best student-athletes and coaches within the sport of wrestling. We look forward to the challenge of competing in the Big 12 and expanding the brand of UNI wrestling.”
The Big 12 also accepts affiliate members for rowing and gymnastics.