Big 12 meeting this week to focus on expansion, with UConn again part of discussion

May 30—The Big 12 is about to talk about UConn again. But this time, it won't be a secret.

Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported Monday that the league's expansion negotations will be high on the agenda at the Big 12's meetings this week in West Virginia.

Dellenger was the first to report that UConn was brought up as a possible expansion target at league meetings in March by Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark.

Gonzaga is reportedly another school on Yormark’s list, even though the school, a longtime basketball powerhouse, does not play football. UConn defeated Gonzaga in the Elite Eight in March for the second time on the way to the Huskies’ fifth national title. Gonzaga has made eight Sweet 16 appearances since 2015.

Dellenger reported the Big 12 gathering “is expected to focus on Yormark’s desire to grow the league to as many as 16 members.”

So far as commissioner, Yormark got a long-term television deal last fall with ESPN and FOX and was able to move Texas and Oklahoma out of the league a year earlier than scheduled than their departure for the SEC.

At the forefront of the Big 12’s expansion talk is adding Pac-12 schools unhappy with projected television revenue with USC and UCLA set to leave the conference. Dellenger reported the Big 12 is focused on possibility of adding Pac-12 schools, the most likely of which seem to be Colorado and Arizona. Dellenger also reported that adding non-Power 5 schools such as UConn, Gonzaga, San Diego State and UNLV is linked to the Big 12 adding Pac 12 schools.

The UConn-Big 12 talk touched off a debate in Connecticut on whether the school should leave the Big East after what has been a successful tenure since UConn rejoined the league in 2020.

While the TV revenue being a Big 12 member far exceeds what the Big East brings in for UConn — between $35 million and $40 million a year from the Big 12 compared to $5 million a year from the Big East — many other factors have been cited, including travel, being a geographical outlier, and the cost of exit and entrance fees offsetting possible Big 12 income. New schools typically don’t get full TV shares for a few years after joining.

UConn’s athletic budget deficit, which reached $53 million last year, was cited as a reason to join the Big 12. But Senator Chris Murphy contended in a recent tweet that the term “deficit” is misused in reporting athletic department subsidies.