Report: Talks between Pac-12, Big 12 end without future partnership
The Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences have concluded talks without a future partnership, reports ESPN’s Pete Thamel.
Thamel notes that at least three Zoom calls between the two conferences took place but officials from both told Thamel there was no further interest in seeking out a partnership.
A Pac-12 source briefed on the conversations said that the Big 12 had expressed interest on Friday in possibly exploring a full merger. The Big 12 source said of the three options laid out by the Pac-12 — pooling rights, a scheduling concept or fully combining the leagues — that the only scenario that could have potentially driven value because of the sheer numbers of schools and populations areas was a full merger of the leagues.
The Pac-12 source indicated the Big 12 was interested in that option. A Big 12 source said the Big 12 needed more time to explore that option further, which it did over the weekend and decided not to explore any options further.
The Pac-12 source said that the Pac-12 was skeptical of the full merger because the leagues’ media rights expire at different times. A Big 12 source countered that the Pac-12 had expressed ways they could work around that.
A Pac-12 source told Thamel that the conference isn’t motivated to negotiate with the Big 12 since the Big 12’s media rights can’t be negotiated until 2024. One of Thamel’s Big 12 sources said the lack of much extra revenue was one of a “multitude of reasons” for the Big 12 to not be interested.
The loss of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten puts the Pac-12 at a crossroads.
The conference announced that it is pursuing all expansion avenues and pushed up negotiations for its next media rights deal; the current one is set to end in 2024.
The Pac-12 could form a partnership with another conference in need of a lift, like the ACC, which would possibly cause travel problems for smaller sports. It also could add members from a smaller conference like the Mountain West or convince schools from the Big 12 to defect, like Colorado and Utah did in 2011.
The conference also may have its hand forced if several schools bolt for another conference to find stability, which is where talks with the Big 12 came into play.
The Associated Press contributed to this story