BYU Participates In Big 12 Spring Meetings For First Time

Jun 1, 2022, 9:52 AM | Updated: 1:01 pm
Tom Holmoe, BYU, Big 12 Conference...
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is participating in the Big 12 Spring Meetings in Irving, Texas. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

IRVING, Texas – The reality of BYU being a member of the Big 12 Conference takes another step this week. For the first time, BYU is taking part in the Big 12 Spring Business Meetings.

It’s the first time the annual event has occurred since BYU was officially invited as a member last September.

The meetings are taking place at the Four Seasons in suburban Dallas, where hotel rooms are going for $630 per night this week.

Along with BYU, future Big 12 newcomers UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston are joining in on the meetings. A big storyline surrounding the three American Athletic Conference members is when they will officially join the league.

Reports have indicated that all three will pay an eight-figure buyout to leave the AAC, allowing them to join the Big 12 during the 2023-24 academic year. The same year as BYU will enter beginning on July 1, 2023.

Meetings will include the Big 12’s Board of Directors, member institution athletic directors, senior woman administrators, and faculty athletics representatives. Those individuals from BYU include Tom Holmoe, Liz Darger, and David Hart.

Since BYU received its coveted invitation to the Power Five league, AD Tom Holmoe has remained consistent with messaging that his athletic department, which he has overlooked since 2005, needs to step up to be ready for life in the Big 12 Conference.

“The day that it was announced that we were in the Big 12, people celebrated like crazy that we had arrived,” Holmoe said to reporters in January. “My first thing was, ‘Oh, no. We have so much work to do.’… It just seems to me like there’s a lot of work to do and very little time.”

Oklahoma & Texas are at Big 12 Spring Meetings

It’s challenging enough for Holmoe to try and “level up” his athletic department as they prepare to join a league that includes members who have been making significantly more money than BYU has ever pulled in. Then it gets even more daunting when you realize Oklahoma and Texas are still members for the first two years.

Nothing has changed with the Longhorns and Sooners. The expectation remains that the two Big 12 powers will join the SEC beginning in 2025.

SEC is holding their spring meetings this week as well in Destin, Florida. Reports have emerged from those meetings that both Oklahoma and Texas have participated in conversations to determine the league’s new scheduling format. Neither was represented at the SEC meetings, but both are at the Big 12 spring meetings. Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione was seen walking through the Four Seasons lobby to the Carpenter room for his seat at the first AD meeting of the week on Wednesday morning.

Who will be the Big 12 Commissioner?

Along with the Horns and Sooners dilemma, there are many pressing issues in front of BYU’s new league. Most notably, who is going to be the next commissioner?

Bob Bowlsby is stepping away after overseeing the league since 2012. Board of Director leaders indicated that they wanted a replacement within 90 days. So there’s still time on that front, but only another 30 days or so. The search has been tight-lipped, and this week’s meetings could provide insight into the next steps.

Structure of the new Big 12 with BYU

Also, how will the new Big 12 conference be structured once BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston join the league? The Big 12 has been the league that has gone against the grain by having no divisions. However, with the NCAA dropping the requirement to have divisions to hold a championship game, many autonomous leagues are exploring the idea of ditching divisions in favor of pod scheduling.

The Big 12 has a difficult decision with divisions because its league membership is up in the air. In 2023 it could be from nine (if no AAC members join and Texas/OU move to SEC) to 14 members. Then in 2024, it will be somewhere between 12 to 14 teams before settling in with 12 in 2025.

The Big 12 Transformation Committee, which features the Board of Directors and the league’s Joint Council, will hold meetings on Thursday. It’s there that conversations on the future structure of the league could take shape.

Media Rights on the mind

Then, what about the future of the Big 12’s TV deal? Big 12 can begin negotiations with television partners in February 2024 for its next media rights package. But the goals and visions that the league has likely begin now.

The market for live sports continues to be in high demand as the Big Ten could reportedly land a $1 billion deal with its next TV partner. How much will be left for a league like the Big 12 moving forward without Texas and Oklahoma beginning in 2025?

Safe to say, there’s a lot to unpack for BYU and Big 12 administrators this week.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Participates In Big 12 Spring Meetings For First Time