Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark already planning for next TV deal

Jun 6, 2024, 3:55 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2024, 5:15 am

Arizona AD Desiree Reed-Francois, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and Arizona State AD Graham Ros...

Arizona AD Desiree Reed-Francois, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and Arizona State AD Graham Rossini at an ABOR meeting on Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Screenshot)


Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark met with the Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday to present his plan for the new conference of the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats. It was one of his first chances to rally support for his goals.

“There’s never been a more important time in college athletics than now,” Yormark told ABOR before sharing his conference’s vision statement and strategy.

It was also a time for a board in charge of state university financial decisions to reaffirm its stance: that as college athletes earn more endorsements and take more time out of their schedules — inching closer to professionals — they will remain students first.

Flanked by two newly implemented athletic directors in Arizona’s Desiree Reed-Francois and ASU’s Graham Rossini, Yormark was peppered with questions about sweeping challenges and changes in college sports.

Answers are hard to come by with so many moving parts — some in the legal system.

If there is one takeaway, it’s that Yormark is aware that surviving is about keeping with the times as legal battles and changes to NCAA policies continue. A net cast to cover all the changes would reel in the topics of student-athlete compensation, revenue sharing between schools and conferences, transfer portal rules and how to project what media rights deals will best match fan consumption.

Yormark said one of his mentors taught him to always have “optionality,” he told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke after the ABOR meeting.

“I’ve got to think about football, obviously. It’s the big driver. I have to think about men’s and women’s basketball and I have to think about Olympic sports,” Yormark said. “When I think about creating value in all three of those buckets, we certainly did that with the Four Corners schools. We got better in football. We got better in basketball — even though we’re the No. 1 basketball conference in America, we got better. And we got better at Olympic sports.

“I’m very excited about that because when I think about our next TV deal — and our new TV deal starts in fiscal 2025-2026 and it runs to June of 2031 — we go back into the market in January of 2030. It’s very important we grow in all areas.”

Locally, Yormark said adding the Sun Devils and Wildcats along with Utah and Colorado was about bolstering the Big 12, growing the league to 16 teams.

The additions triggered the dissolving of the Pac-12 as schools fled without a resolution of the conference’s next TV deal.

It’s a reality that Yormark is already fighting against in his own conference, even though he quickly came to an agreement last year with ESPN and Fox on a six-year, $2.28 billion media rights extension before adding the four newcomers.

In his address to ABOR, Yormark said the Big 12 has focused on bringing its commercial business in-house.

Strategy-wise, it is aiming to connect better with younger audiences and is evaluating how to elevate women’s sports.

“Just spent some time with the board here and I said the best is yet to come when it comes to the Big 12,” Yormark told Wolf & Luke. “We’re very bullish on our future for all the right reasons and we got considerably stronger throughout the board through realignment. Again, the University of Arizona and Arizona State play a big role in that.”

Big 12 mission statement

“We aim to be the most relevant and nationally recognized conference, competing at the highest level and creating value to our membership athletically, academically, culturally and commercially,” it reads.  “The Conference will act as a platform that amplifies student voices, celebrates athletic excellence and welcomes in fans from every corner of the country.’

“We will continually build our brand on the rich history of our league but never rest on our laurels. We respect time-honored traditions but embrace the shifting landscape of sports and society at large, season after season.”

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