Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark has announced that the conference has concluded its expansion efforts, ending the possibility of adding UConn and Gonzaga as new members. The decision comes shortly after the Big 12 revealed plans to welcome Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah from the Pac-12 next year.
Yormark shared in an interview on the “Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast” that discussions with UConn and Gonzaga had taken place but didn’t come to fruition due to the favorable outcome of the conference’s expansion with the four Pac-12 schools. While expressing admiration for both UConn and Gonzaga, Yormark stated that his focus is currently on the transition of the new additions.
UConn, a prominent force in both men’s and women’s basketball, currently competes in the Big East conference and is independent in Division I football. Gonzaga, a dominant men’s basketball program in the West Coast Conference, has sustained success over the past two decades.
The Big 12, which is bidding farewell to Texas and Oklahoma as they move to the SEC, will encompass a total of 16 members after the inclusion of the Pac-12’s Four Corners schools. Yormark sees this expanded footprint spanning multiple time zones and states as an advantage in future media rights negotiations. The Big 12 recently extended its media rights deals with Fox and ESPN, positioning itself for favorable financial terms.
In the midst of these developments, the Pac-12 has faced challenges and departures from several member schools. Yormark expressed sympathy for the situation and noted a cordial conversation with Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, emphasizing that he does not want his conference’s gain to be at the expense of others.
Overall, the Big 12’s expansion and strategic moves aim to position the conference for continued success and growth in college sports media and competition.