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

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark isn’t bashful about his expansion strategy. He wants to go west.

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

“Obviously, going out west is where I would like to go, entering that fourth time zone,” Yormark said Wednesday.

He added of the Big 12’s wish list: “A program that has 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 to target potential Pac-12 members for expansion has set off friction between the leagues, especially in the wake of the Pac-12 losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten beginning in 2024.

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

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

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

Both the Pac-12 and Big 12 elected 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 negotiating window with both media partners wasn’t set 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 senses both want to begin negotiations soon.