FedEx supporting Memphis in Big 12 expansion efforts

FedEx supporting Memphis in Big 12 expansion efforts
Published: May. 11, 2016 at 1:20 AM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2016 at 10:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - At this point, it's no secret that the University of Memphis wants to be included in the Big 12 Conference.

The school has aspirations of leaving the American Athletic Conference for a Power 5 spot, and the Big 12 is the most logical choice, as the conference is likely looking to add more teams. The conference currently only holds 10 teams, and therefore lacks a championship game in football—something that hurts the conference's status during bowl season.

ESPN acquired a document from February that UofM president David Rudd sent to the president of Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Baylor.

In the letter, Rudd tells the schools' presidents than Memphis will make a $500 million investment in academic and athletic infrastructure within five years.

Rudd also includes that FedEx is firmly behind the Tigers' back in their efforts to join the Big 12.

Rudd also included a letter from FedEx chairman Fred Smith, who states that the delivery company would become a Big 12 sponsor in football and basketball and sponsor a Big 12 championship game.

Smith said the potential sponsorship is good for the company. His letter to the Big 12 said in part:

"We strongly support the University's efforts to become a member of an expanded Big 12 Athletic Conference. In support of Memphis' Big 12 aspirations, we have researched college conference sponsorships and are prepared to become a major big 12 sponsor of football and basketball."

FedEx is already sponsor to many major sporting events, such as the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament in Memphis, FedExForum, the home of the Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers basketball teams, and NFL, NASCAR, and tennis events.

Smith said this would not be a charitable contribution. He expects a bottom line return for his company, and having its name involved with a Power 5 conference makes business sense.

Plus, Smith said the Big 12 would be another amenity for the city of Memphis, and help recruit top talent to work at FedEx. Smith said with the planned construction on the UofM's south campus of a new indoor practice facility for football, new basketball facility to replace the Finch Center, as well as the upgraded stadium seating already underway at the Liberty Bowl, the hometown university is poised to have the best athletic facilities of any school in the country.

Memphis is not alone in their efforts to join the Big 12. ESPN also sources documents from Colorado State, Central Florida, and Houston with similar pleas to Big 12 school presidents.

The Big 12 is scheduled to talk expansion at its Spring meetings outside Dallas on May 31-June 3. A decision to expand or not and which schools to add could come by the end of July.

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