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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Big 12’s New Era Kicks Off: Expansion, Private Equity, and Global Ambitions

  • The conference kicked off its first media days with 16 members.
  • Commissioner Brett Yormark opened up on potential private equity funding.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 kicked off its first football media days as a 16-team conference Tuesday in Las Vegas, marking the start of a new era under commissioner Brett Yormark (above)

It was 24 months ago, as uncertainty around conference realignment clouded college sports, that Yormark in his first media days as commissioner declared the Big 12 was “open for business.” He followed through on that statement, and the conference eventually added Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah, while bluebloods Oklahoma and Texas left for the SEC. 

Now, the Big 12 is leading more change within college sports, with Yormark confirming the conference’s groundbreaking interest in striking a deal for a private equity investment and changing the league’s name. “From a conference perspective, we are exploring all options,” Yormark said Tuesday from Allegiant Stadium. “Two years later, I guess you could say we’re still open for business. Naming rights is one. Private equity is another.”

Private Equity Money

When asked specifically about private equity, Yormark didn’t shy away from the need for more funding. “I do believe that given where we are—the industry—having a capital resource as a partner makes a ton of sense,” he said. And with more private equity money flowing into professional sports (which could include the NFL soon), Yormark predicts it’s only a matter of time until college sports is next. 

But it’s not as simple as writing a check and moving on. “A structure and a model of what that looks like is going to be critically important so that we’re not compromising the long-term future of the conference,” he said.

Playing Across the Border

Yormark also touched on the recent $2.7 billion settlement that the NCAA and Power 5 conferences agreed to, which could ultimately lead to revenue sharing with players. “The settlement provides a very crystal-clear future and path forward for our industry,” he said. “It provides incredibly enhanced benefits for our student-athletes.”

Meanwhile, Yormark announced the Big 12 is once again making changes to its plans to expand into Mexico. After delaying the initiative to 2025 that was supposed to kick off with basketball games in Mexico City this December, Yormark said the conference is pivoting to exploring baseball and women’s soccer games in the country.

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