Robbins on realignment: ‘(Arizona, ASU) don’t have to do same thing’

Jun 9, 2023, 9:23 AM

Arizona Wildcats v. Arizona State Sun Devils...

Azuolas Tubelis #10 of the Arizona Wildcats shooting free throws against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the second half of a semifinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The University of Arizona and Arizona State University have long been viewed as a package deal for any sort of conference realignment that could take place.

But after what Arizona president Bobby Robbins alluded to Wednesday ahead of the university’s hosting of the Future of College Athletics Summit in Washington, D.C., that’s not necessarily the case.

“(Arizona and ASU) don’t have to do the same thing,” Robbins told reporters. “But (ASU president Michael Crow) and I are very, very tight. I think it’d be unlikely that we’d be split up. Right now with 10 schools, we control a very nice 20-percent of solidarity.”

Robbins added he has full autonomy to move on without ASU.

His comments come with the Pac-12 conference still without a new media rights deal, something commissioner George Kliavkoff has been tasked with since last July.

The university president also called the steady drum beat of speculative media reports that have the Pac-12 on the verge of falling apart “propaganda.” He acknowledged that he has spoken with Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark, just not recently.

Yormark has said he would like the Big 12 to expand West and include more schools in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

“He’s aggressive. He has big plans for the Big 12. I wish him well. All 10 of us are focused on the (media rights) deal,” Robbins said.

The Big 12 jumped ahead of the Pac-12 and agreed to a six-year extensions to its current deal with Fox and ESPN late last year, though that has also not been officially announced from any of the parties.

A cautiously optimistic Robbins said his preference, and the consensus among his colleagues in the Pac-12, is to keep the current 10 schools together.

Whether the Pac-12 expands is dependent on whether a new television deal will include an equal share for potential new members and not cut into what the existing members receive, Robbins said.

Robbins said the Pac-12 having a presence in Southern California, following the departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024, would be desirable. He mentioned San Diego State as a possible fit, along with maybe expanding to Texas. Kilavkoff visited SMU, located in Dallas, earlier this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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