The Big 12 is open to further expansion.
As the conference’s spring meetings wrapped up in West Virginia on Friday, freshman commissioner Brett Yormark met with reporters via video conference and made it clear that the Big 12 had an interest in adding additional members to the league.
“We have a plan,” Yormark said. “We want to be a national conference in our composition from coast to coast. We love our current roster, love the four new schools coming next month. However, if the opportunity arises to create value, we will seize it. This is one of our lines of work. »
Two summers ago, founding Big 12 members Oklahoma and Texas sparked the latest wave of conference realignment by deciding to leave for the SEC. With those two having officially left the Big 12 in 2024, the conference responded by adding the former independent BYU, as well as Cincinnati, Houston and UCF from the American Athletic Conference. These four will become official members of the Big 12 on July 1, giving the league 14 members for the 2023 football season.
Yormark has always expressed a desire to incorporate additional schools and said on Friday there had been a “big talk about expansion” among Big 12 presidents and athletic directors this week. The so-called “four-corner” Pac-12 schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — have been repeatedly brought up as rumored possibilities over the past year. The Pac-12 is in a vulnerable state as it loses USC and UCLA to the Big Ten and struggles to finalize a new media rights deal.
More recently, multiple outlets have reported that Gonzaga and UConn are also on the Big 12 radar. Gonzaga is a West Coast Conference basketball powerhouse that doesn’t have a football program. UConn, the defending men’s basketball national champions, left the AAC for the Big East in basketball and plays football as an independent of FBS.
Yormark said Friday that bolstering an already strong conference in men’s basketball could be beneficial.
“We see the benefits of basketball moving forward,” Yormark said. “We think it’s undervalued. There is a chance for us to double as the No. 1 basketball conference in America. Football is the driving force and we all know that. We are exploring all options and considerations at this time. »
Yormark said Friday the Big 12 will distribute about $440 million to its 10 members from last year for the 2022-23 fiscal year. At $44 million per school, that’s a conference record and includes both Oklahoma and Texas. Last year, the Big 12 distributed about $42.6 million per member.
In October, the Big 12 agreed to a new media rights deal with ESPN and Fox through 2030-31, worth an estimated more than $2 billion.