Although Yormark did not go into details, he said there was a lot of discussion about enlargement during the spring sessions.
WASHINGTON — Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said expansion remains a focus of the conference, which closed its spring sessions on Friday with a record $440 million revenue distribution to be shared among its 10 current schools.
Less than a year after his appointment as commissioner, Yormark said there was a “big discussion” about enlargement at the meetings, which were being held for the first time in West Virginia.
“We have a plan. As I have always said, we desire to be a national conference in our coast-to-coast composition. And we believe in the benefits of basketball as we continue to evolve as a collective group,” Yormark said. However, if the opportunity to add value arises, we will pursue it.”
The Big 12 will expand from 10 to 14 schools on July 1 when BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston officially join the league. These additions come a year before Oklahoma and Texas departed for the Southeastern Conference.
The $440 million payout for the 2022-23 school year is up from $426 million last year, and Yormark said that number will continue to grow going forward.
Big 12 officials last fall extended their media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports through the 2030-31 school year, when the only current members with national soccer championships retire. That deal, which includes soccer and basketball broadcasts, was due to expire in two years.
While Yormark didn’t elaborate on a potential expansion, he did concede that “football is the driver” but the league will review all options and considerations when the time comes.
Yormark was asked if future expansion candidates would need to be full members or if there could be potential non-football additions such as a school like Gonzaga.
“We’re seeing an uptick in basketball for all the right reasons. We think it’s underrated and that there’s a chance for us to serve as the #1 basketball conference in America,” Yormark said.
“Of course there were talks about what would happen in the next television cycle. Certainly nothing can and should not be done now,” he said. “But when we think about the future and opportunities to add value, there’s always an opportunity to decouple basketball from football to see if we can add further value to the conference. And we are prepared to do so at this time, when the opportunity presents itself and when it makes sense.”
Among other things from the spring conferences:
– Yormark said the league will be undertaking a branding refresh over the next year, but that will not involve a change to the league’s name or logo.
“A refresh is just about taking the current visual identity and updating and modernizing it,” he said. “We will not change our logo at this time. But how do we maybe present it with different colors and different uses?”
— There have been discussions about extending contracts with the league’s existing championship venues, including AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for soccer, and Kansas City for men’s and women’s basketball and Oklahoma City for softball.
– The league plans to unveil an international strategy with a focus on Mexico as soon as next week.
“It will lay out our strategic plan, why we’re doing it, the rationale for how we’re going to enter the market, and who we’re working with,” Yormark said. “We are really excited about our international plans and entering this market soon.”