Memphis-based FedEx is willing to become a major Big 12 sponsor, but only as long as the conference adds the Memphis Tigers to the fold, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter. A number of schools are currently lobbying the conference in hopes of being picked for expansion, and the letter stating Memphis' case includes a lot of big promises.
University president David Rudd committed the school to a $500 million investment in "academic and athletic infrastructure" over the next five years. In addition, Memphis' package to the Big 12 included a letter from FedEx chairman Fred Smith, which stated that the company would be willing to become a "major Big 12 sponsor" in football and basketball if the conference were to include Memphis in their expansion plans, including sponsoring a championship game.
"We strongly support the university's efforts to become a member of an expanded Big 12 athletic conference," Smith writes to Rudd in a letter dated Feb. 23. "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."
This is not Memphis' first attempt to woo the Big 12 into adding them. They previously released a promotional publication that included some fancy talking from Memphis native Justin Timberlake.
Of course, Memphis is hardly the only team jockeying for the Big 12's affections. Trotter mentions Houston, Central Florida and Colorado State in his story, and word this week was that the top four candidates for expansion at the moment are UConn, BYU, Cincinnati and Colorado State.
Memphis may not be the strongest candidate for expansion for the Big 12. The school's pledge to spend $500 million on upgrades shows just how much the Tigers would have to do to bring themselves up to the rest of the conference's level. But having a big money sponsor in your corner is never a bad thing, even if the conference wouldn't have that much of a problem finding sponsors on their own. That certainly hasn't stopped Memphis from trying, though.