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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Big 12 Commissioner Wants to Expand NCAA Tournament, College Football Playoff

  • Brett Yormark also wants CFP to reevaluate revenue distribution in 2026.
  • He floated a 14-team playoff and 76-team NCAA tournament as options.
William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

To Brett Yorkmark, “More is more.”

The Big 12 commissioner pushed for expansion of both the NCAA tournament and College Football Playoff on Wednesday while speaking to reporters in Arizona.

Yormark said he was “open to 76” teams playing in March Madness and called the obvious gap between the SEC, Big Ten, and rest of the power conferences “overstated.”

The College Football Playoff will expand from four teams to 12 in 2025 and ’26, but beyond that the future is cloudy. Current conference commissioners have agreed to keep the playoff at a minimum of 12, but there is momentum to expand it to 14, and Yormark is on board. 

“If we end up going to 14 and we can further enhance the championship experience for more teams and more student-athletes, that’s great,” Yormark said. “And I’m going to continue to bet on the Big 12 that we’re going to take some of those at-large spots. In theory, more is more. More is good, but the proof is in the details, and I’m excited to see how this year plays out at 12.”

Yormark added that he’d like to see how the 12-team playoff goes this season before trying to further modify it. 

In the spirit of more, Yormark would also like to see the NCAA tournament expanded beyond its current field of 68 teams. There have been rumblings of expansion for years, and commissioners and coaches have been openly discussing them this spring. Yormark and his fellow administrators are expected to meet with NCAA president Charlie Baker soon.

Yormark said coaches are for expansion “in theory,” and, while no number has been reported, he floated 76 as a possibility. 

“The tournament is one of the greatest spectacles in sports,” Yormark said. “It captivates hard-core fans and casual fans for all the right reasons and you don’t want to mess with something that’s great, but if there’s chances to modify it a bit … we owe it to ourselves to do that.”

Yormark staved off a potential conference collapse by picking Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah off the carcass of the Pac-12, but he is still displeased with the newly negotiated revenue distribution for the College Football Playoff, with SEC and Big Ten teams collecting $21 million annually, while the Big 12 will get $12 million, which is $1 million less than the ACC. Expansion of the playoff gives the other two conferences more attempts to cash in. 

He did get a “look-in” provision in the distribution deal in 2028, which is halfway through the current six-year agreement and would give commissioners a chance to reevaluate the financial situation—and in his case potentially get his conference a larger slice of the pie. 

“Having that ‘look-in’ made sense for a lot of different reasons,” Yormark said. “I certainly wasn’t happy with the distribution. I guess you could say in some respects I was satisfied. It was fine. But certainly not happy about it. And I don’t think our ADs or our coaches are, either, but we’re going to continue to invest for the right reasons.”

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