Big 12, Pac-12 will not cooperate as the talks officially end

Big 12, Pac-12 will not cooperate as the talks officially end

Talks on a partnership between the Big 12 and the Pac-12, which have been the subject of much discussion over the past two weeks, have officially ended, sources told ESPN.

Officials from the Big 12 told Pac-12 officials on Monday that they were no longer interested in exploring the partnership, sources said.

A Big 12 source said the deal did not work for the conference for “many reasons”, which included the fact that any potential deal would not have led to big revenue for the league. “It just did not work,” the source said.

There have been at least three Zoom talks between top-league officials in the Big 12 and Pac-12 and other talks between other factions of the league – including legal ones – to discuss various options. The scope of the talks had not been previously reported.

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 that the three options put forward 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 populations were a complete 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 source said that the Pac-12 was skeptical of the complete merger because the leagues’ media rights expire at different times. A Big 12 source countered that the Pac-12 had expressed ways it could circumvent it.

“Because the 12 major media rights cannot be negotiated until 2024, Pac-12 schools have no motivation to join the Big 12,” said a Pac-12 source. “Pac-12 has announced that they are holding together and are in the middle of media rights negotiations.”

The Pac-12 has explored all options after the sudden departures of UCLA and USC left the league without two of its top marks and no toe in the Los Angeles media market. The league has only two full years left of its overwhelming TV deal, and Commissioner George Kliavkoff has diligently explored creative ways to generate revenue.

It includes talks with the ACC about some sort of planning scheme, but sources have told ESPN that the economic reality of the potential partnership will also undermine.

Pac-12’s expiring contract and few options for generating revenue continue to maintain the notion that Pac-12 is the most vulnerable of the Power 5 leagues. With Big Ten capturing two of the league’s top properties and significantly reducing the potential value of the upcoming TV contract, the reality that the Pac-12 needs to fight potential poachers may emerge.

Both Oregon and Washington have participated in the College Football Playoff and are not bound by rights after the league’s TV deal ends. The Big 12 has also monitored through back channels the potential to add the Pac-12 schools of Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado, which is a former Big 12 member.

The new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has claimed that the league is “open for business” and the conference has emphasized that it plans to be aggressive about potential additions.

“We will not leave the stone untouched to create value for the conference,” Yormark said at the media day. He added: “There is no higher priority than to best position the Big 12 for their upcoming multimedia rights negotiations. Everything we do must create momentum for these negotiations.”

On July 5, Pac-12 announced that the board had authorized the league to immediately begin negotiations on its next media rights agreements. It has led the league to explore different and creative options for generating revenue through partnerships.

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