Brett Yormark: Big 12 Media Rights Negotiations are Highest Priority
Incoming Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark made it clear on Wednesday what his highest priority is as he takes over on Aug. 1.
“There is no higher priority for the Big 12 right now than our media rights negotiations,” Yormark said during his opening remarks at Big 12 Media Days.
Yormark sat with outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Baylor president Linda Livingstone during his first public appearance since his hiring in June.
The Big 12’s television rights are up for grabs after the 2024-25 athletic season, when Oklahoma and Texas transition away from the league. The Big 12 paid out a record $42.6 million to its 10 members for the 2021-22 athletic season.
But Yormark intends to be aggressive once he takes over officially on Aug. 1.
“There is no doubt the Big 12 is open for business,’ Yormark said. “We will leave no stone unturned to grow the conference.”
While Yormark doesn’t have specifics on the type of media contract he’s looking for, he’s bullish on the conference’s prospects when it comes to those negotiations.
“What we look like today and what we look like when we enter those negotiations could be different,” Yormark said. “We have three more years with our current partners. I have a working relationships with ESPN and FOX and have had that for years. They’re the best in the business. I look forward to engaging with them at the right time.”
Yormark joins the Big 12 at a time of tremendous change. Last year, Oklahoma and Texas announced it would leave the league to join the SEC on July 1, 2025. In response, the Big 12 invited BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference next July.
The day after Yormark’s hiring was announced both USC and UCLA announced it was leaving for the Big Ten in 2024, setting off another potential moves in conference realignment. The Big 12 is already reportedly discussing expansion with multiple Pac-12 schools, including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. The Big 12 has also reportedly had discussions with SMU.
There are also discussions of a partnership between the Pac-12 and the ACC that would create a ‘championship game’ and crossover games between the two conferences.
The Big 12 Conference announced Yormark’s hiring on June 29 to replace Bob Bowlsby, who has served as the Big 12’s commissioner for the past decade. Yormark’s contract was for five years and is expected to start around Aug. 1.
Bowlsby will transition into an advisory role.
Yormark joins the Big 12 from Roc Nation, where he served as chief operating officer and co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, the commercial side of the business.
Yormark, a graduate of Indiana University, began his sports career in 1988, working in the ticket office for the New Jersey Nets. By 2005 and through 2019, Yormark served as CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, where he oversaw their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, building the first new arena in New York City in 60 years and re-launching the Nets organization and brand in Brooklyn.
Prior to joining the Nets, Yormark served as vice president of corporate sponsorships for NASCAR, where he oversaw a $750 million partnership agreement, the largest in history at that time, that gave Nextel Communications the naming rights to its premier racing series.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.