The Big 12 Conference is extending its reach into Mexico, announcing plans Thursday for men’s and women’s basketball games to be played in Mexico City late next year while also exploring a possible football bowl game in Monterrey.
“Mexico is a natural extension to the Big 12 footprint,” commissioner Brett Yormark said Thursday. “Through Big 12 Mexico, our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in an international setting, and our conference will have the chance to showcase our brand across Mexico.”
Kansas and Houston, as reported by ESPN on Wednesday, will play each other in men’s and women’s basketball at Mexico City’s Arena CDMX in December 2024. After that, women’s soccer teams and baseball teams from the Big 12 will participate in exhibitions against clubs from the region.
Plans for a football bowl game — to potentially be played following the 2026 regular season — has been targeted for Monterrey.
The Big 12 will expand from 10 to 14 schools on July 1 when BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston officially join the league. Those additions come a year before the departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC.
Yormark discussed the Mexico strategy at Big 12 meetings in West Virginia last week, saying expansion remains a focus for the conference that is distributing a record $440 million of revenue among its 10 current schools for the 2022-23 academic year.
Yormark expressed to the league’s leadership that the Mexico initiative will help deliver the league a natural extension into a local footprint in Mexico and give Big 12 athletes the experience in competing in another country, sources told ESPN.
In his first year as commissioner, Yormark brokered a six-year television extension with ESPN and Fox that has given the league stability, and negotiated the early exit of Oklahoma and Texas.
Along with hosting conference games across multiple sports, Big 12 Mexico will see the league execute a variety of community outreach programming, commercial partnerships, merchandise and activations. The league on Thursday said that will include partnering with notable musicians and artists and launching an influencer marketing campaign in the region.
The bowl game in Monterrey would be the second postseason one currently held outside the United States, joining the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. Historically, there have been others, including the now-defunct International Bowl in Toronto that held its final game in 2010. The Bacardi Bowl was also played in Havana, Cuba, periodically over the previous century.
The league is still exploring business partners and a league pairing for the bowl game.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.