The Big 12 Conference has been at the forefront of college football news in recent months, as conference realignment once again takes center stage. With the conference set to welcome four new members in July 2023, there are now rumors that the Big 12 could expand even further. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said about the possibility of expansion and explore some potential candidates for new membership.
What Yormark had to say
In a press conference held in Kansas City during the Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, Yormark addressed the topic of expansion, calling it “a priority” for the conference. However, he stressed that any expansion must be “additive” and not compromise the conference’s cultural identity or geographic footprint.
Yormark also mentioned the importance of considering academic and athletic performance when evaluating potential new members. While he did not specifically name any schools, he did mention that he continues to have conversations with Gonzaga, a school that has long been rumored as a potential addition to the Big 12 for basketball.
The Big 12 Expansion: What You Need to Know
The Big 12 Conference has been a topic of conversation lately with conference realignment being a hot topic, particularly as it relates to the Big 12 and Pac-12. On Wednesday, the conference’s commissioner Brett Yormark addressed expansion and realignment among other topics during a press conference held in Kansas City, where the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are currently being held.
During the press conference, Yormark discussed his philosophy regarding expansion and what he considers to be “additive” qualities in expansion. He stated that exploring expansion is “a priority” and that “it’s gotta be additive, but we are focused on it, and we’re exploring every and all possibility.”
However, he also mentioned that he loves the composition and makeup of the conference going forward, with the four new schools coming in July and the continuing eight. Nonetheless, if there is a chance to get better, Yormark considers it incumbent upon him as the commissioner to explore those possibilities.
Qualities Considered in Expansion
Yormark also talked about what he considers to be “additive” qualities in expansion, stating that “it’s gotta be a good cultural fit, first and foremost. We have a like-minded board, like-minded institutions. We don’t want to compromise that, so whoever comes in, ultimately there needs to be a cultural fit.” He also noted that geography matters, and the conference wants to be a truly national conference from both a brand perspective and geographic footprint.
Performance matters both academically and on the field/court. Yormark stated that they consider a lot of things when they explore expansion, not just one metric but a couple. This means that there is a wide range of schools that could potentially join the Big 12 Conference.
Gonzaga’s Potential Move to the Big 12
One school that has been speculated to join the Big 12 is Gonzaga, with Yormark mentioning that he likes the program. However, he noted that his focus right now is on seeing what happens throughout the industry, and there are a lot of moving parts. He has continued to have conversations with Gonzaga, but right now, there are other things that he is focused on.
Four Corners Schools of the Pac-12
On Thursday morning, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that “Yormark continues to pursue” what have been dubbed the “Four Corners” schools of the Pac-12: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. According to Dodd’s sources, there have been weekly conversations between those schools and the Big 12, and it may only take one of the Four Corners schools to bolt from the Pac-12 for the other three to follow.
Dodd also reported that some of his sources believe that “Yormark is going to be successful in luring at least some combination of Four Corners schools.” This would be a significant move for the Big 12 Conference and would likely bring more balance to the conference, especially in terms of geography.
Potential Impact of Expansion
If the Big 12 does expand, it could significantly impact college sports, especially football and basketball. The conference could potentially become more competitive, and it could increase the value of the conference’s media rights, which would benefit all of the schools in the conference.
The addition of new schools could also bring in new fans, which would increase the conference’s visibility and credibility. This could lead to increased attendance at games and more revenue for the schools. However, it’s important to note that expansion must be done carefully, and schools must be chosen based on their ability to add value to the conference and their compatibility with the current schools in the conference.
What schools could be in the mix?
While Yormark did not name any specific schools, several have been mentioned as potential candidates for Big 12 expansion. Here are a few that have been mentioned in recent reports:
Arizona and Arizona State
The University of Arizona and Arizona State University are both members of the Pac-12 Conference, but rumors have been swirling that they could be considering a move to the Big 12. According to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, Yormark has been in regular contact with representatives from both schools, and there is a belief that if one school were to make the move, the other could follow.
Colorado was a member of the Big 12 until 2011 when it left for the Pac-12. However, according to Dodd, Yormark has also been in contact with officials from Colorado, and there is speculation that the Buffaloes could be interested in returning to the Big 12.
Houston is currently a member of the American Athletic Conference, but the Cougars have been mentioned as a potential addition to the Big 12 for several years. In fact, Houston was reportedly a candidate for Big 12 expansion in 2016 before the conference ultimately chose to add TCU and West Virginia. With the Cougars having enjoyed success in football and basketball in recent years, they could once again be a viable option for the Big 12.
Brigham Young University is an independent in football but competes in the West Coast Conference in other sports. The school has a strong athletic tradition and a large fan base, making it an attractive addition for any conference. According to reports, the Big 12 was interested in adding BYU in 2016, but the school’s policy on not playing on Sundays reportedly caused the conference to look elsewhere.
The University of Central Florida is currently a member of the American Athletic Conference but has been mentioned as a potential addition to the Big 12 for several years. With a large and growing enrollment, UCF has become one of the most prominent Group of Five programs in recent years, and the Knights could provide a boost to the Big 12’s presence in Florida.
In conclusion, the Big 12 Conference is preparing for expansion in the future, with four new members set to join in July 2023. Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark has emphasized that any expansion must be “additive,” not compromising the conference’s cultural identity or geographic footprint.
Yormark has also considered academic and athletic performance when evaluating potential new members. Gonzaga has long been rumored as a potential addition to the conference, but Yormark has also been in contact with representatives from the “Four Corners” schools of the Pac-12: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah.
If the Big 12 does expand, it could significantly impact college sports, especially football and basketball, and bring in new fans, leading to increased revenue for the schools.
However, expansion must be done carefully, with the chosen schools adding value to the conference and being compatible with the current schools. Ultimately, the conference must make decisions that will benefit all of its members, and any expansion will have to be executed with great care and consideration.