Conference expansion and the value the four new members bring to the Big 12 were among the topics league commissioner Brett Yormark discussed during a nearly one-hour session to kick off Big 12 football media days on Wednesday.

Big 12 and conference expansion

Over a series of questions during the media session, Yormark said the Big 12 has a plan for expansion, while not going into detail on any sort of time frame or any possible expansion candidates.

“We have a plan. And we have a plan for expansion. I’m not really going to address it today. Hopefully we can execute that plan sooner, rather than later,” he said. 

Yormark also emphasized his pleasure with the current makeup of the conference, while adding that the league is open to having conversations about potential additions — even from the non-Power Five level — if the value that institution brings aligns to the Big 12 Conference and is worth pursuing. 

“I love the composition of this conference right now, the excitement the four new members have brought to this conference has been incredible,” he said. “... If we stay at 12, we’re perfectly fine with that.

“If the opportunity presents itself where there’s something that creates value and aligns well with our goals and objectives starting with the board, then we’re certainly going to pursue it.”

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Big 12 football championship game staying at AT&T Stadium

Yormark announced an extension that will keep the Big 12 football championship game at AT&T Stadium through 2030. 

“It’s a world-class venue, probably the finest venue in America,” he said. “It’s kind of nice that we start our season here effectively (for media days) and end it here.”

Tickets for the 2023 championship will go on sale on Aug. 12, the commissioner said, and this year, there will be a “major musical performer” for the game’s halftime show, which will be televised on ABC. 

What the Big 12’s new media deal means for the league

Yormark repeated that moving ahead of schedule last fall to lock up the Big 12’s new media deal, which will take effect starting in 2025, helps bring stability to the league as it goes through a transitory phase — with the addition of BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF this season and the exit of Texas and Oklahoma next year.

“Just going early was critically important for this conference to get the stability and the clarity, as we know, there’s some challenges in the media market today,” Yormark said.

“... I can’t tell you how grateful I am that we went early and we’ve doubled down with ESPN and Fox.”

This new deal could bring games for member institutions during the week.  

“We will explore different days of the week for football games, Thursday and Friday,” Yormark said.

The value the four new members bring to the conference

Yormark touted the Big 12’s brand and emphasized the need for a strong social media presence, saying, “Our goal is to connect with Gen Z.” 

“We want to get on the consciousness of (both current and future) student-athletes” in an effort to “continue to live and intersection of culture and sports,” he said.

The league’s four new schools, Yormark is confident, help the Big 12 accomplish those aspirations.

“If you were on social media on July 1, you saw how those new schools elevated our brand,” he said. “We’re excited to partner with those new schools.

“... We’re now in eight states, we reach over 75 million people with those four new schools and they bring a lot of value to this conference. We’re very excited to add them.”

The exit of Texas and Oklahoma and the depth of the Big 12

For one season, the Big 12 will stand at 14 teams before Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC.

This year will be about celebrating the blue blood programs that have been with the league since its inception in 1996.

“We’re going to celebrate Texas and Oklahoma, because they’ve been with the conference since Year 1,” Yormark said.

Yormark also touted the league’s depth — last year, the Big 12 was the only conference to send 80% of teams to bowl games — and he is confident that the conference will remain relevant nationally.

“I believe we once again are the deepest conference in America,” he said.

He also said he’s “not really competing with the other Power Five conferences” when asked where the Big 12 sits in the pecking order of the sport’s top leagues.

“I want the Big 12 to be the best version of ourselves,” Yormark said.

He later added, “This conference is bigger than any two schools. I am excited about the future.”

The Big 12 championship trophy is displayed at the opening of the Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. | Sara Diggins, Austin American-Statesman via Associated Press