The Big 12 would prefer to wrap up the expansion process before the start of the 2016 football season, three persons with knowledge of the ongoing process told CBS Sports on Thursday.

While it's not clear whether a final decision on timing has been made, all three sources said the Big 12 doesn't want expansion to overshadow the league's football season with a drawn-out process that would extend into the 2016 campaign.

The Big 12's season kicks off Sept. 2 when Baylor hosts Northwestern State and Kansas State travels to Stanford.

The league announced on July 19 it would begin a formal expansion process to add two or four teams. Since then, several schools have publicly said they have contacted the Big 12 about their interest.

When contacted on Thursday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports: "I have not made any comment on time frame and do not plan any such statement."

If the expansion teams are indeed announced before the season, that conceivably would give the new schools a chance to begin playing in the conference in 2017. For now, the league is in the process of contemplating how it will decide participants for its championship game that has been reinstated for 2017.

Bowlsby has said the most likely scenario has two division winners meeting for the league title.

It's not clear if Bowlsby or other conference officials will make official site visits to expansion candidates. Some presidents on the conference's composition committee had previously visited campuses.

The next key event to watch is the American Athletic Conference Media Days set for next Monday and Tuesday in Newport, Rhode Island. Ten of the league's 12 schools have been at least casually mentioned in some form or another as Big 12 expansion candidates.

The most commonly mentioned expansion schools include BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, UConn, UCF, Colorado State, South Florida and Boise State.