The Big 12 is open to further expansion.
As the conference’s spring meetings wrapped up in West Virginia on Friday, first-year commissioner Brett Yormark met with reporters via video conference and was clear that the Big 12 has interest in adding additional members to the league.
“We have a plan,” Yormark said. “We have an appetite to be a national conference in our makeup from coast to coast. We love our current composition, love the four new schools that are coming in the next month. However, if the opportunity presents itself to create value, we will pursue it. It is a focus of ours.”
Two summers ago, charter Big 12 members Oklahoma and Texas set off the latest wave of conference realignment by deciding to depart for the SEC. With those two officially leaving the Big 12 in 2024, the conference responded by adding former independent BYU, as well as Cincinnati, Houston and UCF from the American Athletic Conference. Those four will become official Big 12 members on July 1, giving the league 14 members for the 2023 football season.
Yormark has consistently voiced a willingness to bring in additional schools and said Friday that there was a “great discussion about expansion” among the Big 12’s presidents and athletic directors this week. The so-called “four corner” Pac-12 schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — have come up repeatedly 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’s radar. Gonzaga is a basketball power out of the West Coast Conference that does not have a football program. UConn, the defending national champions in men’s basketball, left the AAC for the Big East in basketball and plays football as an FBS independent.
Yormark said Friday that further strengthening an already-strong conference in men’s basketball could be beneficial.
“We do see the upside in basketball moving forward,” Yormark said. “We think it’s undervalued. There’s a chance for us to double down as the No. 1 basketball conference in America. Football is the driver and we all know that. We’re exploring all options and all considerations at this point in time.”
Yormark said Friday that the Big 12 will distribute approximately $440 million to its 10 members from last year for the 2022-23 fiscal year. At $44 million per school, that’s a record for the conference and includes both Oklahoma and Texas. Last year, the Big 12 gave out around $42.6 million per member.
Back in October, the Big 12 agreed to a new media rights deal with ESPN and Fox through 2030-31 that is reportedly worth more than $2 billion.