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Gonzaga reportedly in talks with Big 12 about joining

Are the Zags headed to a Power Five conference?

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Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few gathers his players at midcourt after they practiced at Vivint Arena.

Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few gathers his players at midcourt after they practiced at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 in preparation for their NCAA Tournament game with Fairleigh Dickinson.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Could Gonzaga be joining BYU in the Big 12 Conference?

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported Wednesday that Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford met with Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark last week about the possibility of the Zags joining the Power Five conference.

The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil confirmed the report, while adding that the conversations are “exploratory” at this point, there is no timeline for a decision and Gonzaga would make the move in all sports.

Having the Zags join the Big 12 would create a shift in the balance of the men’s college basketball landscape — Gonzaga has established itself as a national powerhouse while playing in the West Coast Conference.

BYU, which has competed in the WCC for many of its sports and as an independent in football since 2011, is set to join the Big 12 next year, along with Cincinnati, Houston and the University of Central Florida.

Gonzaga has also engaged in conversation with the Pac-12 and Big East, according to Thamel, “but the extent of those conversions are uncertain.”

Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger said it’s believed that the Pac-12 has been pursuing both Gonzaga and San Diego State.

In late July, Pac-12 flagship programs USC and UCLA announced they will join the Big Ten in 2024.

“The addition of Gonzaga to the Big 12 would be a massive shift in the landscape, as it would perpetuate the Big 12’s reputation atop the sport,” Thamel wrote. 

“Gonzaga’s men’s basketball program has played in the national title game in 2017 and 2021. Gonzaga has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in four of the past five years.”

Gonzaga athletics competes in 16 NCAA sports but does not field a football program. The Zags last competed in football in 1941.