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Commissioner: Big 12 no longer talking with Gonzaga after bringing in four Pac-12 schools

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark speaks during the Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium, Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Arlington, Texas.  (Elías Valverde II)

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said the conference is no longer in talks with Gonzaga after recently adding the Pac-12’s four corner schools.

“I did have conversations with UConn and Gonzaga, and unfortunately things didn’t work out, only because the dream scenario unfolded for us,” Yormark said on the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. “So those conversations are no longer.

“I am a big admirer of both those programs. They’re fantastic for all the right reasons, but right now I’m focused on the transition of those four (coming) in.”

Yormark, who was officially hired by the Big 12 just over a year ago, reportedly met with GU officials as early as last October and discussions continued while the Pac-12’s protracted media rights negotiations stretched into the summer months.

USC and UCLA announced last summer they would join the Big Ten for the 2024-25 season. Colorado announced three weeks ago its departure for the Big 12. Shortly after the Pac-12’s proposed media rights figures were presented by commissioner George Kliavkoff in early August, five more Pac-12 schools bolted with Oregon and Washington signing on with Big Ten and Arizona, Arizona State and Utah joining the Big 12.

“We’re done,” replied Yormark, when asked if the Big 12 was finished with realignment. “We had a vision. When I came on board, there was three things that we really wanted to address, big picture items. One, we wanted to do our TV deal and go out early, stabilize our conference and give us a foundation for the future. Two, we wanted to resolve the Oklahoma and Texas situation. When I was introduced, effectively on my first day, that was a big issue. Would they leave a year early or now, and what that relationship might look like going forward?

“And then the last of three was expansion. Could we set ourselves up for future expansion? My board had an appetite to pursue that. Those are the three we wanted to do. We accomplished all three in my first year.”

The Big 12 will have 14 schools this season with BYU, Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati making their debut. The conference will be at 16 the ensuing season with the arrival of the four corner schools and Texas and Oklahoma exiting for the SEC.

Yormark said he still has a “little bit of a knot in my stomach” after a whirlwind couple of weeks of conference realignment.

“I never want my gain to be somebody else’s loss,” he said. “On the heels of not Colorado, but of all four corner schools coming, I texted George, reached out to him, obviously he was busy. He and I spoke last week and effectively I said, ‘Hey I’m sorry it came down to this and I’m sorry I put you in a tough position, but this is something we had to do, something that our board and our key stakeholders encouraged. I’m sorry that my gain is your loss.’

“And we had a very collegial conversation, George was fantastic. I’m not one to hide, and again, I’ve been very intentional about expansion, and I did that in an effort to make sure expansion didn’t happen in someone’s shadow. It didn’t happen at night, it wasn’t a shock and awe moment. Everyone knew the Big 12 had an appetite to expand.”

For now, the Big 12’s appetite doesn’t appear to include Gonzaga.