Count ’em, 16 members of the Big 12 soon.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark announced Friday night that the Big 12 Board of Directors voted unanimously to admit Arizona State, Arizona and Utah into the conference starting next year. The Big 12 will consist of 16 members starting in the 2023-24 academic year, including Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, Utah and West Virginia.
“The conference is gaining three premier institutions both academically and athletically, and the entire Big 12 looks forward to working alongside their presidents, athletic directors, student-athletes and administrators,” Yormark said in the statement.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported Friday evening that the Big 12 approved Utah and Arizona State’s applications to join the conference starting next year. Thamel then reported the move, that also included Arizona, would be official pending a Board of Trustees vote. The official announcement came less than an hour later.
Utah and ASU followed Colorado and Arizona from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 in a move that will put the Big 12 at 16 members for next year, even after losing OU and Texas. Arizona’s application was approved Thursday night. Colorado was the first to seemingly open up the multi-verse with its move last week.
The conference switch seems to make financial sense for all schools, which were reportedly set to make about $20 million staying with the Pac, compared to $31.7 million with the Big 12 because of a better media deal with ESPN and FOX.
Colorado may have the biggest spotlight right now with Deion Sanders as its coach, but Utah is the Big 12’s greatest catch so far. The Utes are defending back-to-back Pac-12 champions and have been a top dog in the conference since joining in 2011. The addition of Utah also brings the Civil War rivalry to the Big 12, with in-state foe BYU already in the conference.
Oklahoma State hasn’t seen Utah since a 46-6 win in 1945.
ASU has struggled on the gridiron recently, even losing to OSU 34-17 last season in Stillwater. The Cowboys will travel to Tempe on Sept. 9. Considering other sports outside of football, of these new additions, only ASU has a wrestling program.
The Pokes are 5-4 all-time against Arizona on the gridiron.