Big 12 Basketball

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel Calls Gonzaga to the Big 12 ‘Inevitable’

NCAA Basketball: Kraziness in the Kennel

The Athletic recently reported that the Big 12 Conference was ‘deep in discussions’ with Gonzaga to join as a member in basketball. Now the publication’s editor in chief, Stewart Mandel, is indicating it’s only a matter of time before it comes to fruition.

“A few weeks,” Mandel responded, when asked in an interview by BYU Sports Nation how soon the move could happen. “Not playing basketball, but signing on to the Big 12. I think you know, from what we’ve been told, it’s inevitable for a couple reasons. One, it’s obviously a very attractive basketball conference. Two, Gonzaga is only going to leave the WCC if the conference they’re going to is willing to take all their sports and not just men’s and women’s basketball. And the Big 12, from what we have been told, has given them that assurance. I don’t know that the Pac-12—I mean, the PAC 12 is just not far enough along to be able to make any sort of assurances to Gonzaga.

“So, we think [for] Brett Yormark obviously priority number one is those Pac-12 schools, waiting to see what happens there. But whatever happens there, I still think they want Gonzaga. Brett Yormark is positioning the Big 12 as the top basketball conference. Right? He feels like that’s a way to [stand out]. You’re not going to be the Big 10 and SEC. But how do you distinguish yourself in some fashion? Basketball. Basketball does not drive the money that football does. But it’s not insignificant either.

“And if you were to get Gonzaga to go with Kansas, Baylor—those are the last two national champions. Houston is coming in. They’re the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament right now. That’s the best basketball conference. They can add Arizona, too. My goodness. Now you’re like the SEC of basketball.”


Those are, of course, all true statements. And the league would be even stronger than it already is.

Yormark was asked about the prospect of this last week at the Big 12 Tournament. He offered the following:

“I like Gonzaga, obviously a great program. My focus right now is to see what happens throughout our industry. There’s a lot of moving parts. I continue to have conversations with Gonzaga, but I think, as I prioritize what our next move might be in expansion, there are some other things right now that I’m focused on.”


The commissioner strongly believes basketball is undervalued in this latest round of television rights talks, The Athletic reports. And he’s hinted at the possibility of separating it from football and selling those rights uniquely when the Big 12 next hits the open market in 2030-31, which makes Gonzaga an attractive future option.

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