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Big 12 ‘exploring all options’ when asked about potential Pac-12 additions

Jul 13, 2022, 8:26 AM | Updated: 8:32 am

New Big 12 commissioner Brett Yorkmack said Wednesday he is open to expansion when asked if the conference was actively engaged in discussions with Pac-12 schools.

“We are exploring all options and we are open for business,” Yorkmack told reporters during the start of Big 12 media days. “Optionality is good. We’re vetting through all of them. I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest.

“People understand the direction of the Big 12 and we’re exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent but we’re working hard to make sure we position the Big 12 in the best possible way in a go-forward basis.”

The question to Yorkmark centered around CBS Sports analyst Dennis Dodd’s report on July 5 that said the Big 12 was in “deep discussions” to add multiple Pac-12 programs and that at least four schools from the conference (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah) were mentioned specifically.

But The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reported shortly after that unless the Pac-12 goes into panic mode, there’s “no rush” and that it could go through the whole season before anything is resolved on the future of the conference.

The commissioner’s comments come a little over two weeks after both USC and UCLA announced their plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten starting in the 2024-25 season.

The move will take place after the Pac-12’s current media rights contracts with Fox and ESPN expire, and increase the size of the Big Ten to 16 schools.

The sudden decision left the conference “extremely surprised and disappointed,” the Pac-12 said in a press release after the official announcements from the L.A. schools.

The following day, the Pac-12 said it was exploring all expansion options and “the 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academic and athletic excellence on behalf of our student-athletes.”

In separate statements, both Arizona State VP for athletics Ray Anderson and University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins and director of athletics David Heeke expressed their commitments to the Pac-12.

The decision by the Los Angeles schools — two of the NCAA’s most decorated athletic programs — comes nearly a year after Oklahoma and Texas formally accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference in July 2025.

USC and UCLA stand to significantly increase their revenues. The Pac-12 distributed only $19.8 million per school in fiscal year 2021, by far the least among Power 5 conferences. The Big Ten’s per-school distribution was $46.1 million, second only to the SEC’s $54.6 million.

Losing flagship schools like USC and UCLA is a major blow to the Pac-12, which has had a long and amicable relationship with the Big Ten best exemplified by its Rose Bowl partnership.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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