Temple willing to talk to Big 12 about expansion

Pat Kraft Temple AD 1200x800 with Univ name behind
Temple University Athletic Director Pat Kraft pictured in his office in Philadelphia on May 24, 2016.

NEWPORT, R.I. - With the Big 12 Conference's recent vote to pursue expansion, there will be plenty of schools more than willing to be part of the process, including Temple.

In the past, Temple athletic director Patrick Kraft has declined to discuss the situation publicly for fear of alienating his current home, the American Athletic Conference.

However, as the football teams meet for media day on Tuesday, this is a topic that is being openly discussed and one that AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is expected to address.

Along with Temple, the AAC has a number of schools that would jump at the chance to join the Big 12. And now Temple and others are even willing to talk about it. Although they don't want to show disrespect to their league, the athletic directors understand the huge financial windfall that joining a Power Five conference would create.

"There is a lot of money at stake, that is the reality of it," Kraft said before the league held a clambake Monday evening.

Temple has not been mentioned in speculation about which AAC teams could join the Big 12. Houston, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Memphis are rumored to be in the mix. Non-AAC schools Brigham Young and Boise State also have been mentioned.

Kraft, not surprisingly, feels Temple has as good a case as anybody. "I think we check a lot of the boxes," he said. "You are looking at the fourth-largest market."

The ability to maximize television revenue is always the impetus for expansion. Philadelphia's market size is considered among Temple's strongest selling points.

In addition, Kraft says there is one misconception that he hears all the time when talking about Temple to outsiders.

"A lot of people have this misconception that we are a small private institution," he said. "We are at 38,000-plus and we would be the second largest in the Big 12 if we were to go."

So while Kraft isn't openly campaigning, he says that Temple is prepared to state its case.

"We have the fifth-winningest basketball program in the country and football is emerging as this great program," he said. "We have had five bowl-eligible seasons in seven years and we believe we are as qualified as anybody else."

The Owls went 10-4 last season, tied a single-season school record for wins and played in the inaugural AAC championship game after winning the East Division. Temple lost to Houston in the AAC title game.

If the expected expansion occurs, it is unclear whether it would be by two or four schools.

"We don't know what will happen, but for us, our biggest thing is to tell our story and be ready" if contacted, Kraft said.

Kraft said that the AAC athletic directors have discussed the situation with one another.

"There would absolutely be no hard feelings if any schools left," Kraft said. "Whatever happens, if one, two, three [AAC teams leave], we still have a lot of really strong school and we will continue to build. It's not like it will decimate us."

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard