Big 12, Pac-12 officially ends partnership talks

Big 12, Pac-12 officially ends partnership talks

The potential for any kind of partnership between the Big 12 and the Pac-12 reportedly went up in flames on Monday.

As the SEC and Big Ten further distance themselves from the rest of the major collegiate conferences, a partnership between the Big 12 and the Pac-12 was “much discussed over the past two weeks,” according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. After the two sides failed to forge an association that was mutually beneficial, the talks were officially ended on Monday.

According to ESPN, “a complete merger” between the two conferences was part of the discussions, and the same was true of combining rights and potential planning arrangements. The merger was the most preferred option. But in the end, it was decided that combining the two conferences would not create a sufficient increase in media rights revenues.

From ESPN:

A Pac-12 source who was briefed on the talks said that Big 12 had expressed interest on Friday in possibly exploring a complete merger. The Big 12 source said about the three options put out by Pac-12 – merging rights, a planning concept or a complete combination of leagues – the only scenario that could have potentially driven value due to the large number of schools and population areas was a full merger of the leagues.

The Pac-12 source indicated that Big 12 was interested in that alternative. A Big 12 source said that Big 12 needed more time to explore that option further, which they did over the weekend and decided not to explore any more options.

The PAC-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State, Thursday, August 29, 2019, in Tempe, Arizona (AP Photo / Ralph Freso)

A potential partnership between the Big 12 and the Pac-12 was reportedly discussed “extensively” in the last two weeks. (AP Photo / Ralph Freso)

Can Big 12 move to add Pac-12 schools?

Pac-12 members USC and UCLA announced on June 30 that they will leave the conference for the Big Ten, a massive move ahead of the next round of media rights agreements. While the addition of the Los Angeles market significantly increases Big Ten’s upcoming deal, the value of the upcoming Pac-12 deal got a huge hit.

In the wake, the Pac-12 was left to explore all options to secure the future, leading to these discussions with the Big 12.

But now that these conversations have come and gone, what can happen next?

The Big 12, which potentially adds some of the remaining Pac-12 members – such as Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah – has been the subject of several media reports. In fact, CBS Sports reported Monday night that “the door remains open” for the Big 12 to invite Pac-12 teams.

Oregon and Washington, seen by some as the two most valuable Pac-12 members, are “desperate to get to the Big Ten,” Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reported last week. It is also the status of Notre Dame, which weighs whether to remain FBS-independent or not. It is widely reported that The Big Ten would love to add Notre Dame.

From a media rights perspective, the Pac-12 is currently in an exclusive 30-day negotiation window with ESPN and Fox. The TV numbers that are presented should largely inform about what is happening in the coming weeks and months.

The Big 12, meanwhile, has its own media rights negotiations on the horizon. The Big 12 deal expires in 2025, a year after the Pac-12s. Brett Yormark, Big 12’s new commissioner, said last week that Big 12 is “open to business” and stressed the importance of the next media rights contract.

“We will not leave the stone untouched to create value for the conference,” Yormark said at the 12 major media days. “Exploration and choice are at the forefront of what we focus on. Everything we do must create speed for these [media rights] negotiations.”

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