Commissioner Brett Yormark says Big 12 expansion strategy is about ‘going west’

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark hasn’t been shy about his expansion strategy. He wants to go west.

Speaking Wednesday during a visit to future Big 12 member Cincinnati, Yormark told reporters the league would be interested in adding members from the Pacific time zone. The new commissioner took a bold approach toward expansion, telling football media days, “The Big 12 is open for business.”

“Obviously, going out west is where I want to go, going into the fourth time zone,” Yormark said Wednesday.

He added to the Big 12’s wish list: “A program with national recognition, one that competes at the highest level in basketball and football, stands for the right things, is a good cultural fit.”

The Big 12’s strategy of targeting potential Pac-12 members for expansion has caused friction between the leagues, especially with the Pac-12 losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten starting in 2024.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, asked about Yormark’s “open for business” comment at his league’s football media day, said, “I appreciate that. We haven’t decided if we’re going to buy there or not.”

Kliavkoff would later add: “I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades that have been lobbed from every corner of the Big 12, trying to destabilize the rest of our conference.”

The Pac-12 declined to comment on Yormark’s remarks Wednesday.

Both the Pac-12 and Big 12 have opted to accelerate discussions with ESPN and Fox about their media rights agreements, which are set to expire in 2024 and 2025, respectively. The Big 12’s formal, exclusive negotiation window with both media partners is not scheduled to begin until February 2024.

Yormark said Wednesday that he had “great meetings” with ESPN last week and will meet next week with Fox, adding that he feels both want to start negotiations as soon as possible.