Big 12 votes in Utah, ASU, bringing league to 16

The Big 12 is rapidly getting bigger, as the school’s presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to formally add Utah and Arizona State on Friday night.

They were introduced along with Arizona, which was approved Thursday. The additions bumped the league’s membership to 16 teams beginning in the 2024-25 academic year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to the Big 12,” commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. “The Conference is gaining three premier institutions both academically and athletically, and the entire Big 12 looks forward to working alongside their presidents, athletic directors, student-athletes and administrators.”

Both Utah and Arizona State applied for membership prior to the vote, per ESPN sources, a necessary first step for schools to be approved to switch leagues.

The announcement came after a chaotic day that saw Oregon and Washington leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

The move crystalizes what will be remembered as a dizzying spiral for the Pac-12, which began Friday morning with optimism about the league’s presidents and chancellors agreeing to the schools’ grant of rights for a new television contract.

It ends the day with just four members, as Oregon and Washington were announced as officially in the Big Ten late Friday afternoon. Colorado announced last week it was leaving for the Big 12.

With USC and UCLA announcing their exit last year, eight total schools have left the league in a span of nearly 18 months. Soon after taking over the Big 12 in June 2022, Yormark began targeting the so-called “Corner Schools” for membership.

The key strategic maneuver to get to this point came when Yormark opened up the exclusive negotiation window early with both FOX and ESPN and essentially jumped the Pac-12 in line for a television contract extension. At the time, the Big 12 had one more year remaining, but that move switched the expected chronological order and ended up charting a course that reshaped the entire landscape of college sports.

The Pac-12’s struggles to get a financially competitive television deal in the wake of that move led to this day. The primary streaming deal from Apple wasn’t enough to save the league.

The new 16-team Big 12 is the same size as the SEC and two smaller than the 18-team Big Ten. The ACC has 14 full-time football members.

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