Report: Tony Dungy, Jeff Vinik part of USF's Big 12 pitch
Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy and former New York Yankees/Jefferson High star Tino Martinez were part of USF's formal presentation to Big 12 officials Friday, the Associated Press reported.
The Tampa Bay Times learned Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks also was involved. The local dignitaries appeared on a video presented to the Big 12.
"I think the Big 12 would be surprised to know how many people in the Tampa area are really behind the USF Bulls," Dungy, whose son Eric played for USF (in 2014), said according to an excerpt provided to the AP.
"There are so many sports fans here that just love the university and love to see college athletics."
The AP also reported Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik was part of the five-person team that represented USF in its presentation in Texas. Whether Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins was part of the quintet is unclear.
Higgins told the Tampa Bay Times last month he had spoken with USF athletic director Mark Harlan "on the Big 12 front" and that he was ready and willing to assist his alma mater in its pursuit.
USF officials have consistently declined to comment on their pitch for Big 12 membership. The Power Five conference has set no formal timetable as to when -- or if -- it will expand, but its presidents are scheduled to meet in mid-October.
Earlier this summer, the Big 12 authorized Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to explore the possibility of expanding the 10-team conference.