Kansas City, Missouri — Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said Wednesday that he’s focused on expansion and “exploring every little possibility” to add new members to his conference.
the athlete I reported on March 3 that the conference has been in touch recently with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah as the Pac-12 continues to negotiate a new media rights deal.
In a press conference before the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament opener at the T-Mobile Center, Yormark offered no hints about his progress courting those schools but reiterated that he would pursue any addition that makes his league more valuable.
“I would love to build and build this conference into the future,” said Yormark. “I love the four new schools that are coming in July and the eight that are going on. I think we’re in a great place. But if there’s an opportunity for improvement, then as Commissioner I have to explore those possibilities. And that’s exactly what I do.”
The Big 12 also spoke with Gonzaga about possibly joining as a non-football member. The sources involved in the operation said the athlete Yormark wants clarification on the Pac-12’s status before proceeding with this addition.
“I love Gonzaga,” said Euremark. “Obviously it’s a great program. My focus right now is on seeing what’s happening across our industry. There are a lot of moving parts. I’m still in talks with Gonzaga. But I think, while I prioritize what might be our next step on expansion, there are other things now.” I focus on it.”
Since being named commissioner last July and publicly announcing that the Big 12 was “open for business,” Yormark has consistently said that his priorities for expansion are finding schools that will grow the league’s geographic footprint and that expansion west would be ideal for executing his vision of the Big 12 becoming a “true national conference.”
The conference will officially add new members BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF in July and will temporarily become a 14-team league until Oklahoma and Texas join the SEC in 2024.
“It has to be a good cultural fit first and foremost,” said Yormark. “We have a like-minded board of directors and like-minded organizations, so we don’t want to compromise that. Whoever comes in, in the end, has to be a cultural fit.”
Yormark made no reference to the Pac-12 during his 18-minute speech, but he touted his conference’s new television deal, an extension with current partners ESPN and Fox through 2030-31. He noted that the deal would make the Big 12 the only Power 5 league to partner with those two networks starting in 2025. Pac-12 negotiations with ESPN, Apple, and Amazon are still ongoing.
“We live in an unpredictable world, and it was important to have some clarity and bring stability to the conference,” said Yormark. “I thought the best way to do that was to get a deal with ESPN and Fox. Luckily, they were willing to go early and we found some common ground and we’re so glad we were able to do that. Because if you think about where we are today, after seven months in business We’re in a very different place than we were three or four months ago.You think about these media companies and the layoffs and some of the challenges they face and the fact that we’ve been able to solidify a six-year extension with two of the largest media partners in the business that raises our conference and brighten it up in every possible way.”
(Photo: William Purnell/USA Today)
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