Three days after the West Virginia Spring Meetings, Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said Friday that leadership in his conference is in line with pursuing expansion this summer if the right opportunities arise.
Yurmark met with senior sports presidents, consultants and directors this week at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, WV, and discussions continued about potential expansion candidates. the athlete I previously reported that Pac-12 members Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah, as well as UConn and Gonzaga, are among the many schools currently under consideration.
“We have a plan,” Yormark said in a video conference with members of the media. “Like I’ve said all along, we have an appetite to be a national conference in our make-up from coast to coast, and really believe in the upside of basketball going forward as a collegiate. However, we love our current make-up, and we love the four new schools that are coming next month.” That is, if the opportunity to create value presents itself, we will pursue it.”
Yormark highlighted academic and leadership fit, cultural fit, geography, athletic performance, and long-term boarding as criteria for evaluating new members. Texas Tech President Lawrence Chovanek, and Chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors, said the conference presidents and consultants take a “very open attitude” to these future expansion prospects.
“I’ve never seen greater consensus among board members,” Chovanek said. “I have the same sense of ads.”
The Big 12 has been focused on trying to add members of the Pac-12 since last summer, after USC and UCLA announced that they would join the Big Ten in 2024. Yomark was named the new Big 12 commissioner last June and has been aggressive in his efforts to expand the conference to 14 or 16 members of the league. Media rights negotiations for the Pac-12 are still ongoing, and leaders in Colorado and Arizona have said they would not consider making a change until Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkov makes an offer.
When asked specifically about the possibility of Gonzaga or other schools joining as basketball-only members, Yormark reiterated his belief that basketball is undervalued in media rights and that the Big 12 could “separate” basketball from football and explore selling those media rights more specifically. separate when its agreements with current television partners ESPN and Fox expire in 2031.
“There is an opportunity for us to double as the No. 1 Basketball Conference in America, but football is the driver and we all know that,” said Yormark. “We are exploring all options and considerations at this time.”
Yormark also announced Friday that the Big 12 will distribute an estimated $44 million per school to its members for the 2022-23 fiscal year, a conference record. The Big 12 distributed an average of $42.6 million to its members a year ago. Outgoing members Oklahoma and Texas, who exited to join the SEC in 2024, will receive their full 2022-23 revenue distributions.
Yormark noted that a branding refresh is in the works to further “contemporary and modernize” the Big 12 next year, but the conference has no plans to change its name or logo. The commissioner also said he will make an announcement next week regarding the Big 12’s international strategy and efforts to play soccer and men’s basketball in Mexico, which are expected to begin as early as 2024.
(Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)
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