ARLINGTON, Texas – In his first public appearance, incoming Big 12 commissioner Brett Yeormark said the conference is “exploring all options” when it comes to further expansion, including the possibility of adding Pac-12 schools.
“We are open for business,” Yormark said Wednesday when asked specifically about the schools’ thinking of Pac-12. “And the electives are good. And we check them all out. I think it’s fair to say I got a lot of phone calls, a lot of attention. We’re exploring these levels of interest. Nothing imminent.”
With recent news of the USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten on August 2, 2024, the conference reorganization remains at the forefront of discussions for college presidents, advisors, athletic directors and conference commissioners. Earlier this month, in response to the shocking news about the departures of two of their major programs, the Pac-12 Board of Directors authorized the ten schools that will remain in the league to explore expansion options and begin negotiations on the next media rights agreement.
“The presidents and advisors of the ten universities remain committed to a common mission of academic and athletic excellence on behalf of our student-athletes,” Pac-12 said in a statement on July 1.
Yormark, who will formally replace outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Paulsby on August 1, takes over at one of the most turbulent times in college athletics history. He said the priority is to best position the league in its upcoming negotiations over media rights, as the current deal extends through the 2024-25 season.
“We are going to spare no effort in paying for the conference,” said Yormark, who sat next to Paulsby on stage while addressing reporters at Big 12 Days to Media at AT&T Stadium.
Yormark added that there was “no final plan at the moment” but said the conference was a “very unified group”. The Big 12 will add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF on July 1, 2023.
Paulsby said Big 12 distributed $42.6 million to each organization in revenue.
“I feel very confident that our conference is in the best shape it has ever been in,” said Yormark. “Bob leaves us in a wonderful place.”
Paulsby, who usually begins his media days with a “state of the conference” speech, half-jokingly made his similar comments a year ago.
“I said at the time that I thought our board was as cohesive as I had seen during my 10 years with the Big 12,” Paulsby said. “I think eight days later Texas and OU announced they’re going to the Securities and Exchange Commission, so you can take my assessment of the calm waters for what it’s worth.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Texas and Oklahoma will join the league on July 1, 2025, but there has been speculation that they could join earlier. Yormark said he’s looking for a “win-win scenario” for everyone involved.
“However, it is important that everything that happens is in the interest of this conference, but I look forward to the time to have those talks,” he said.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”