The potential partnership between the Pac-12 and Big 12 is reportedly dead
Talks between the two conferences lasted for weeks, but the Big 12 told the Pac-12 that ‘they’re no longer interested in exploring the partnership’
A partnership between the Pac-12 and Big 12 isn’t going to happen, at least not any time soon, as first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Monday night, who cited sources from both conferences.
According to Thamel, extensive talks between the Pac-12 and Big 12 occurred over the last two weeks, but on Monday, officials from the Big 12 told their Pac-12 counterparts that “they’re no longer interested in exploring the partnership.”
Why didn’t a Pac-12/Big 12 partnership work?
A partnership between the Pac-12 and Big 12 never came to fruition for many reasons, Thamel reported. Most notable among them was that the Big 12 decided the proposed partnership “wouldn’t have driven much revenue for the league.”
“It just didn’t work,” a Big 12 source told ESPN.
Was a merger between the Pac-12 and Big 12 ever an option?
Per Thamel, as recently as Friday, the Big 12 was interested in a possible “full merger” of the conferences.
Sources indicated to ESPN, however, that the Pac-12 “was skeptical of the full merger because the leagues’ media rights expire at different times.”
“Because the Big 12 media rights can’t be negotiated until 2024, Pac-12 schools have no motivation to join the Big 12,” a Pac-12 source told Thamel. “The Pac-12 has announced that they’re staying together and are in the middle of media rights negotiations.”
What kind of partnerships were considered?
According to Thamel, there were three main partnership options available to the conferences. They could:
- Pool together their media rights.
- Create a scheduling partnership not all that dissimilar to the now defunct Alliance.
- Completely merge the two conferences into one larger entity, a possible “super conference.”
Per Thamel, the Big 12 considered a full merger the only viable option because it would increase the value of the conference due to the “sheer numbers of schools and population areas” involved.
What’s next for the Big 12 and the Pac-12
According to ESPN, the Pac-12 has been exploring any and all options available to it following the departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
That has included conversations not only with the Big 12 but also with the ACC, though sources told ESPN that “the financial reality of that potential partnership also projects to underwhelm.”
At Big 12 media days, newly-minted conference commissioner Brett Yormark told media that the Big 12 is going to be aggressive about possible expansion.
“We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference,” Yormark said. “There is no higher priority than to best position the Big 12 for its upcoming multimedia rights negotiations. Everything we do must create momentum for those negotiations.”
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that there remains a possibility that the Big 12 will invite individual Pac-12 teams to join the conference.