Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said Friday that the conference has “a plan” when it comes to expansion, and while league leaders are satisfied with their current membership, they continue to explore “all options and considerations at this point in time.”
A source who participated in the meetings this week told ESPN there were no votes on membership, but there were discussions about scenarios.
Yormark, who addressed reporters via videoconference after the Big 12 spring meetings in West Virginia, was asked specifically about the possibility of Gonzaga or another school joining the conference as a basketball-only member.
“We do see the upside in basketball moving forward for all the right reasons,” Yormark said without mentioning any specific schools. “We think it’s undervalued and 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.
“As we think about the future and ways to create value,” he added, “there is always that option to decouple basketball from football to see if there’s further value we can create for the conference.”
A source told ESPN that UConn and Gonzaga were “certainly talked about” in the meetings, which were held at the posh Greenbrier resort, but the presidents and chancellors are in a holding pattern until the Pac-12 announces its television deal.
The Big 12 is adding four members — BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF — in time for the college football season.
Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec, who joined the videoconference with Yormark, said the Big 12’s current presidents and chancellors have certain priorities they are weighing as expansion discussions continue.
“Our institutions share the same high academic standards and we compete at a very high level athletically, so naturally those sort of criteria enter into our considerations, but also I think we have to open to this changing landscape of athletics,” Schovanec said. “That’s one of the skills and perspectives Brett brings us. We’re taking a very open attitude, weighing all the different issues that are presented, and when the timing is right and the situation is right, we’ll make a decision.”
Since he was hired in August, Yormark has been outspoken in his desire to make the Big 12 a “national conference in our makeup from coast to coast.” He created some friction with the Pac-12 when he announced at the league’s media days last year that the Big 12 was “open for business.”
Yormark also said Friday that the conference will equally distribute a record $440 million to the 10 members from last year, which means Oklahoma and Texas will each receive $44 million before joining the SEC in 2024.
The commissioner also said the Big 12 will announce a “brand refresh” next year that could include “different colors and applications,” but the conference won’t change its logo or name.