Incoming Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark left little doubt about his overall attitude when it comes to taking over the conference’s leadership in August.
“The Big 12 is open for business,” Yormark said in his introductory press conference on Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days.
“Open for business” means everything, too. Realignment, media rights, sponsorships, along with Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
But Yormark made it clear he has one overriding priority as he assumes the reins from Bob Bowlsby.
It’s the league’s media rights deal, which is up in 2025.
“Everything we do must create momentum for these negotiations,” Yormark said.
The chief operating officer and co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified was also the COO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, giving him experience as both a team executive and as the leader of an organization that helps athletes manage their brand.
The Roc Nation experience could help him and the Big 12 navigate the NIL space, an area where Yormark admits the league might need to take a bigger role in.
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The Nets and Barclays Center experience has allowed him to build relationships with both ESPN and FOX, potential suitors for a new media rights deal. Both networks have various rights deals with the Big 12 right now.
“I’m a big fan of what they do,” Yormark said. “They’re the best in the business, and I look forward to, at the right time, engaging with them on meaningful conversations.”
He has a little time to build up to those negotiations. But, first up, once Yormark takes over on Aug. 1, he intends to visit all 14 current and future Big 12 campuses on a ‘listening tour,’ after which he’ll provide the league recommendations on a future direction in the next 60 to 90 days.
One of those recommendations could be related to Big 12 expansion, in the wake of USC’s and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten in 2024.
Yormark was guarded in his remarks about future expansion.
“I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls,” Yormark said. “Nothing is imminent, but we’re working hard to make sure the Big 12 is positioned in the best possible way.”
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