Should the Big 12 Take a Gamble by Selling Their Naming Rights?

Syndication: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Three years ago, the Big 12 Conference was in trouble. The news broke that Texas and Oklahoma were leaving the conference they had been in for nearly thirty years to head to the SEC.

All hell broke loose after that, because nobody knew what would happen to the Big 12. Would it fade away, or would the other four power conferences pick it apart? Nobody had an answer.

Eventually, commissioner Bob Bowlsby dusted himself off and added the four best group of five schools to the Big 12: BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF. That move helped stabilize the conference and was important to keeping it alive.


One short year later, in 2022, the Big 12 hired Brett Yormark as the new commissioner. While many people had questions about Yormark as a conference commissioner, one thing was for certain: he wasn’t afraid to think outside the box.

Within a few months on the job, Brett Yormark got a new TV deal for the Big 12 and even beat the Pac-12 to the punch. And within the next year (2023), he also moved to add Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona State to the conference.

Here we are in 2024, and the Big 12 again is at a crossroads. The Pac-12 is gone, which means that there are only four power conferences left, and the Big 12 is one of them. However, the gap between the Big Ten/SEC and everyone else is growing by the minute.


Two Options for the Big 12

Now, the Big 12 has two options. They can stay in the fight with the Big Ten and the SEC or watch from the front row along with the ACC. The Big 12 is now exploring selling their naming rights, which tells me that Brett Yormark isn’t ready to step out of the ring just yet.

Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported that the conference could receive up to 50 million dollars annually, which would give each school around three million per year. Right now, it appears that Allstate is the leader, and the Big 12 could potentially become the “Allstate 12 Conference.”

McMurphy’s report came just hours after CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that the Big 12 is considering becoming the first conference to explore private equity investment to help further ensure the league’s long-term financial security. In Dodd’s report, he says that a “possible cash infusion of $800 million to $1 billion” comes from a Luxembourg-based firm CVC Capital Partners. The firm would own a 15% to 20% stake in the league in exchange for this cash infusion.

Before people blame the Big 12 for doing this, I want to clarify one thing. This is NOT the Big 12’s fault. If you want to point the finger at someone, then point it at the Big Ten, the SEC, FOX, and ESPN. None of the four I just mentioned give one flying you-know-what about the future of the sport. Do you think Greg Sankey (the SEC commissioner) or Kevin Warren (former Big Ten commissioner) cared about the rest of college football when they were behind closed doors talking to the schools they were planning to add? They only cared about one thing: how much money they could stuff into their pockets.


The days of traditions and college football being a regional sport are behind us. The only thing that anyone cares about anymore is money. If some conferences have to die off for the greater good of the SEC and the Big Ten, guess what? They don’t care as long as they make their money.

Right now, the Big 12 has a loaded gun pointed at them, and they have to make a decision. This was by no means in the Big 12’s plan years ago. Having a gun pointed at you will make you do some things you aren’t comfortable with. It will make you do whatever you are willing to do to stay alive, and that is what the Big 12 is doing.

The Future, Like It Or Not

Like it or not, this is the future of college athletics. I hate it, too, but something has to be done. It’s now eat or be eaten, adapt or die. If you are the Big 12 or the ACC and just sit on your hands, then the Big Ten and SEC may not only just take your best players, but they may also take your schools too. This move may be necessary to close the gap between the Big 12 and the SEC/Big Ten.

One of the blowbacks with all of this is what happens when the Big Ten and SEC decide to do the same thing. If they do, this ended up working for the Big 12. What this does for the Big 12 right now is buy some time. There are still a TON of questions about this that we still need answers to right now.
Believe it or not, the Pac-12 tried a similar move back in the winter of 2019 under Larry Scott, who pursued a private equity lifeline. The plan called for the Pac-12 to bundle its assets into an entity called “Pac-12 NewCo” with the goal of soliciting $500 million in exchange for a 10% stake in the league.


However, the league’s presidents and chancellors ruled out the proposal. Who knows how things would have shaken out if Larry Scott could make that happen? Would the Pac-12 still be alive today? We’ll never know, but it was better than what they did under George Kliavkoff, which was nothing.

As for Brett Yormark, this is what he does and why he was hired. He’s a businessman. The Big 12 is alive today because of bold moves and bold hires. People complained for years about the conference being reactive instead of proactive. Once again, the conference is taking matters into their own hands for survival. Will it work? Who knows, but it’s better than sitting at home doing nothing. It’s only fitting that Big 12 Media Days is in Vegas this year.

The chips are on the table, and the risk/reward is at an all-time high. Now, the Big 12 can either fold or go all in.

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