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Big 12 Eyeing Further Expansion after Agreeing on Early Exit of OU, Texas

It looks like the Big 12 is back in the market for schools.



[Big 12]

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark set some ambitious goals for his first year at the helm. But in just six months since taking over, he’s managed to cross the Top 2 off of his list and has moved on to the third.

Hours after it was announced that the Big 12 and Oklahoma and Texas had negotiated the bell cows’ early exit in 2024 — the Red River rivals will reportedly owe the league a combined $100 million in exit fees — Yormark now has his eyes set on further conference expansion, according to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated.

Yormark hinted it at it in the league’s OU/Texas release on Thursday. “By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning.”

Yormark’s three goals for his first year as Big 12 commissioner were:

1. TV deal – ✔
2. Early OU-Texit – ✔
3. Further expansion – Here we go.

He’s not messing around. With the media rights deal being wrapped up in October and the two departing schools now set to play their final Big 12 games in 2024, Yormark is moving on to more potential Big 12 additions.

The Pac-12 Can Still be Pilfered

When USC and UCLA pulled a similar move last summer to jump the Pac-12 ship for the Big Ten’s, the West Coast league was put into a similar situation as the Big 12. But Yormark and Co. have stayed one step ahead in what’s become an arms race in conference relevance.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has gone into a similar albeit more reactive mode, trying to shore up his league. According to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, Kliavoff visited SMU earlier this week. But after predicting last summer that the Pac-12 would be the next conference to earn a payday after the Big Ten, Kliavkoff’s still waiting for a media rights deal.

This from a recent article in The Athletic is telling.

Three people with knowledge of the discussions said commissioner George Kliavkoff is struggling to find partners willing to pay close to what the league is seeking. Two of those sources said Kliavkoff overpromised his members on how many bidders there would be and what dollar amount they could command — a target north of $40 million per school, according to one league athletic director. Today, it’s uncertain whether the Pac-12 will even be able to exceed the $31.6 million average the Big 12 reportedly landed in a six-year extension with ESPN and Fox it reached last fall.

The Athletic

The demand for the Pac-12 continues to wane and the Big 12 could take advantage with a number of Pac-12 schools listed as suitors the last time the Big 12 was taking applications. The league showed particular interest in Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah last year. Will it make a push for some or all of them on this go-round? Where does a possible hoops-only addition of Gonzaga fit in?

Time will tell. But that arms race for conference relevance may come down to who is more cut-throat, and Yormark has proven to be nothing if not aggressive.

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