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Forbes
Forbes
5 Aug 2023


Utah v Arizona

TUCSON, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 13: Running back TJ Pledger #5 of the Utah Utes reacts after scoring a ... [+] two-yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the fourth quarter of the NCAAF game at Arizona Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. The Utes defeated the Wildcats 38-29. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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When Texas and Oklahoma first opted to leave the Big 12 Conference for the SEC in the summer of 2021, there were serious doubts about the league’s future.

Both schools had been members of the Big 12 since the league's inaugural season in 1996.

In February, the two schools were cleared to leave following the 2023-24 season after surrendering $100 million to the Big 12 for their early exits.

“By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning,” Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said at the time.

Now, six months later, the Big 12 appears to be in excellent position after plucking the so-called “Four Corner” schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — from the Pac-12, a league which has collapsed virtually overnight and now has just four schools.

The Colorado news broke last week, while Arizona, Arizona State and Utah were admitted to the Big 12 Thursday and Friday. ZAGSBLOG first reported that the Big 12 would vote Friday night on the additions of Arizona State and Utah after Arizona was admitted Thursday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to the Big 12,” Yormark said in a statement. “The Conference is gaining three premier institutions both academically and athletically, and the entire Big 12 looks forward to working alongside their presidents, athletic directors, student-athletes and administrators.”

Beginning with the 2024-25 academic year, the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 16 members - Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, Utah and West Virginia.

In September 2021, former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby negotiated the additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston after the departures of Texas and Oklahoma.

The additions now of four former Pac-12 schools “just gives us stability,” one Big 12 basketball coach said.

“A year and a half ago, we were the league that everybody thought was going to be kind of picked apart and it turned out to be the Pac-12 and that’s pretty remarkable,” the coach added

“[Big 12 Commissioner] Brett [Yormark] deserves some credit and Bowlsby got those four teams and if you look at it now, it doesn’t seem like the greatest adds, but it stabilized us for a little bit.”

While the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC (and Big East) are now more than stable, the Pac-12 has essentially ceased to exist.

The Big Ten, which added Oregon and Washington on Friday, now moves to 18 teams starting in 2024, when it will also add Pac-12 schools UCLA and USC.

Of the demise of the Pac-12, the coach said “it’s just crazy.”

“Imagine having no Pac-12,” the coach added. “It’s just unbelievable.”