Big XII remains “open” to more expansion

Maybe they’ll eventually call themselves the Big XVI.

The Big 12 is open to further expansion, commissioner Brett Yormark said Friday, as the league prepares to welcome four new members, including the University of Houston, on July 1.

Expansion was among the topics during the Big 12’s three-day business meetings that wrapped up Friday at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

“We have a plan,” Yormark said on a video conference call with reporters. “As I’ve said all along, we have an appetite to be a national conference in our makeup from coast to coast.

“That being said, we love our current composition and the four new schools that are joining next month. However, if the opportunity presents itself to create value, we will pursue it.”

The Big 12 has shown interest in adding more members with the departures of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC in 2024. The league will expand to 14 schools in July with the addition of UH, BYU, Central Florida and Cincinnati.

There continues to be instability with conference realignment with UCLA and USC set to leave for the Big Ten and the Pac-12’s ongoing media rights negotiations casting an uncertain future for that league. The Big 12 has been linked as a possible destination for Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.

The Big 12 could also consider basketball-only schools Gonzaga and UConn, adding to its cache that is already regarded as the strongest men’s basketball conference in the nation.

“We do believe in the upside of basketball moving forward as a collective group,” Yormark said. “We think it’s undervalued. There’s a chance for us to double down as the No. 1 basketball conference in America, but football is the driver and we all know that. We’re going to consider all options.”

Yormark said the Big 12 will take “guiding principles” into consideration when looking at possible expansion candidates, among them academic alignment, leadership, cultural fit, geography, and athletic performance.

Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec, chair of the Big 12’s board of directors, said the conference’s presidents and chancellors are taking “a very open attitude” to expansion.

See here for the previous update. Nothing really new here other than the mention of UConn as a basketball addition, but the passage of time and Colorado’s open interest in exploring its options make this timely. Remember when there was a couple of years in between major conference reshufflings, which provided the veneer or temporary calm? Yeah, we’re over that. Hold onto your butts.

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