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New Big 12 Commissioner says league will make 'additive' moves, Big 12 is 'Open for business'

After revamping last summer following the loss of Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12 is again exploring all future options

The news of both UCLA and USC jettisoning the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference came in the immediate aftermath of Brett Yormark’s hiring as Bob Bowlsby’s replacement atop the Big 12 Conference.

Matter of fact, it was just some 48 hours later that the national college landscape received a seismic change for the second consecutive summer; it was Oklahoma and Texas last summer which bolted from the Big 12 to the SEC.

Yormark said he received the news with different thoughts in mind, but he reiterated one major tenet Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days.

“One thing is crystal clear: There is no higher priority than to best position the Big 12 for its upcoming multimedia rights negotiations,” said Yormark, who officially takes the helm of the league Aug. 1. “Everything we do must create momentum for these negotiations, as well as building the value of the Big 12 brand and business.

“We are exploring all options, and we're open for business. Optionality is good, and we're vetting through all of them.”

Yormark declined to discuss any specific potential additions to the league, but he confirmed that he has conducted conversations designed to potentially grow the Big 12.

“I think it's fair to say I've received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest,” he said. “People understand the direction of the Big 12, and we're exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent, but we're working hard to make sure that we position the Big 12 in the best possible way on a go-forward basis.”

After it lost OU and Texas a year ago, the Big 12 repositioned itself with the acquisitions of BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston; those four programs officially transition to the league July 1, 2023.

Yormark emphasized his vision to maintain the Big 12’s long-term viability.

“Again, I'll say that there is not a definitive plan right now. We're exploring all options,” he said. “ …

“As we vet out the possibilities, everything will be additive, nothing will be dilutive, and I feel very confident that our conference is in the best position it's ever been in before. Bob is leaving us in a great place. As you get to know me, I don't really pay much attention to anything else but us [as it pertains to other leagues’ movements]. I think there's incredible upside with the Big 12. It's one of the reasons, again, I'm here today.”

However, Yormark did not entirely rule out the potential for both the Longhorns and Sooners to potentially leave the Big 12 for the SEC prior to the currently scheduled end of their Big 12 agreement, which would keep both programs from beginning their SEC membership before July 1, 2025.

"In any situation like this, I always look for a win-win scenario," said Yormark, not ruling against the potential early defection of those two programs. "That being said, it's important that whatever happens is in the best interest of this conference."