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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Colorado Regents Vote Unanimously to Join The Big 12 in 2024

  • The University of Colorado, Boulder will join the Big 12 in 2024.
  • Colorado officials emphasized two major benefits to joining the Big 12: stability and exposure.
University of Colorado Athletics

In a meeting Thursday, the University of Colorado’s board of regents voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the Big 12 starting in 2024-25.

The Buffaloes will re-enter the conference after more than a decade in the Pac-12 — something multiple regents said excited them, given their fond memories of Colorado in the Big 12 of yore.

“They’re back,” the Big 12 said in a statement.

In the meeting, University of Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano said that “a move to the Big 12 will set CU Boulder up for success.” He emphasized two major benefits to joining the Big 12: “stability in an era of unprecedented change,” and increased exposure for the university in a conference that offers three time zones.

Of course, Colorado will also receive more revenue. Fox and ESPN will pay out $31.7 million per year to Colorado when it joins, and the school can expect around $42 million in total annually, according to The Action Network. That’s a significant increase from the mid-$30 million the school receives in total distributions from the Pac-12.

Colorado regent Lesley Smith said she wished the “Pac-12, Pac-10, whatever it is in the future — all the best.”

The news is also a major rebound for the Big 12, which was on the verge of collapse just two years ago when Texas and Oklahoma agreed to leave for the SEC. 

Since then, the conference plucked UCF, Cincinnati and Houston from the AAC and grabbed BYU as well. 

Then, former commissioner Bob Bowlsby handed over the reins to Brett Yormark, who promptly inked a $2.28 billion media extension with Fox and ESPN.

Yormark then turned to expansion. 

The conference, which welcomed BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston this year, will now be well-positioned in a western media market and enjoy the brand power that comes with a football team led by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

And with Colorado, further expansion could be easier than ever. The conference is going to be more attractive to a 14th member (a number Yormark has said he’s interested in). Reports have suggested one of the Pac-12’s “four corner” schools in Utah, Arizona, or Arizona State, as well as recent Big East returner UConn, could be next.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is reportedly holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss its own next steps. 

The conference’s woes began last year, when the biggest brands in UCLA and USC announced they would leave for the Big Ten. 

Since then, the conference has failed to produce a media rights agreement for 2024 or a Grant of Rights — the requisite contract that would bind schools together for a certain number of years. Part of the issue was the Big 12 jumping ahead of the Pac-12, signing its media agreement a year early and snagging both valuable television windows and media dollars in a difficult economy.

Just last week, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said he wasn’t concerned about schools fleeing, and that the Pac-12’s media deal would be more lucrative the longer the conference waits.

As it stands now, he couldn’t be more wrong. 

The Pac-12 declined to comment after an FOS inquiry on Wednesday night.

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