Kansas City, MO, USA (Reuters): Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark told reporters Friday that the league has “a plan” to approach another expansion of its membership.
The Big 12 is preparing to welcome BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF into the fold in 2023-24. When Texas and Oklahoma depart for the SEC, the league will be back to its size of 12 member institutions.
But reports from multiple media outlets have linked Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Memphis to the Big 12 as potential additions, along with UConn and Gonzaga as basketball-only options.
Yormark addressed the situation with the media via video conference from the league’s spring meeting at the Greenbrier Resort in West Sulphur Springs, W.V.
“As I’ve said all along, we have an appetite to be a national conference in our makeup from coast to coast, and we do believe in the upside of basketball moving forward as a collective group,” Yormark said.
“That being said, we love our current composition, love the four new schools that are coming in next month. However, if the opportunity presents itself to create value, we will pursue it.”
The Big 12 has emerged as the premier basketball conference in college sports in recent years, with Baylor and Kansas winning the national title in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and other schools like Kansas State and TCU competitive in the NCAA Tournament. But Yormark and his peers know conference realignment is fueled by the money from football in particular.
“We do see the upside in basketball moving forward for all the right reasons,” Yormark said without mentioning any specific schools. “We think it’s undervalued and there’s a chance for us to double down as the No. 1 basketball conference in America, but football is the driver and we all know that.
“As we think about the future and ways to create value,” he added, “there is always that option to decouple basketball from football to see if there’s further value we can create for the conference.”
Colorado was a member of the Big 12 from 1996 through 2011 before leaving for the Pac-12. With that conference still struggling to complete a media rights deal, Colorado returning to the Big 12 has become an option. The league has had “substantive” talks with Colorado, recent reports said.