The Big 12 Conference is reportedly already looking west for a contingency plan as its two biggest members depart the league.
According to The Athletics’ Max Olson, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is scheduled to meet with Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff on Tuesday with the expectation that they will discuss possible benefits of a future collaboration as the college sports landscape begins to change. There are plenty of possibilities between the two conferences, ranging from a scheduling alliance to a merger — a prospect which Bowlsby noted in front of the Texas Senate on Monday.
The collective move to the SEC by Oklahoma and Texas has left Bowlsby and the Big 12 understandably worried. The commissioner told the Senate in the Monday hearing that the duo comprises an estimated 50 percent of the Big 12’s television rights agreement, which means the remaining eight schools could lose out on around $14 million at the end of the current deal.
So, the Big 12 is being proactive this time around, setting this meeting with the Pac-12 — but that opens even more questions on a smaller scale, especially for West Virginia, the lone Big 12 member in the eastern time zone who already suffers through a grueling travel schedule.
Despite the obvious challenges afforded by a Big 12/Pac-12 partnership of any kind, Olson reports that West Virginia’s brass is not against such moves “if they can help maintain Power 5 status and provide financial security.”
Kliavkoff has already been vocal about the possibility for conference realignment. At Pac-12 Media Day on July 27, with the reports of Texas and Oklahoma’s exodus still fresh, Kliavkoff stated that the conference had already received “significant inbound interest from many schools,” indicating that Big 12 members were also trying to get out in front of the changing tides.
“We expect these decisions to take some time, and we will not be sharing any further information today about ongoing expansion discussions,” he said at Pac-12 Media Day.