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Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark Left An Impression On BYU’s Mark Pope

Nov 1, 2022, 2:29 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm
Brett Yormark, Big 12, Big 12 Conference...
Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark has impressed many, including BYU basketball coach Mark Pope. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark impressed many people around the college landscape by delivering a media rights extension for his league.

It was an impressive accomplishment for a conference many believed would see their media rights cut in half without Texas and Oklahoma. Instead, the Big 12 is viable and has stability moving forward as they are set to welcome BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston to the league on July 1, 2023.

A position no one expected a year ago. Bob Bowlsby made a big move getting BYU and the three AAC schools. Then Brett Yormark, with his connections with TV executives, locked up a media rights extension that potentially sets the market for leagues like the Pac-12 that are trying to get an entirely new deal altogether.

The first few months have been a strong start to Yormark’s tenure. Count BYU basketball head coach Mark Pope as one of those people that is a believer in the Big 12’s new boss.

Mark Pope is a huge fan of Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark

“A huge fan of his,” Pope said to KSL Sports.

Last month, Pope was at a BYU corporate sponsorship event, and he met with an executive who has spent a lot of time with Yormark. The executive gave Pope rave reviews of the former COO of Jay-Z’s ROC Nation. Pope also met the Big 12 Commissioner during his visit to Provo in September for the BYU-Baylor football game.

Yormark has been transparent with his goals of making the Big 12 an “open for business” entity. Whether it’s media rights, conference expansion, or making the league more contemporary, he wants the Big 12 to thrive.

BYU basketball’s fourth-year headman likes what he sees from Yormark and knows how critical the role is to the success of the member institutions in the future.

Need a visionary

“The truth is, [Yormark’s] job is probably more important than any of us realize. We need a visionary in that position. We’re losing Bob [Bowlsby], who is one of the great directors of college athletics over the last 30 years,” said Mark Pope to KSL Sports. “He is stepping into the most dynamic time ever in college athletics, and he’s going to have to be a visionary and a leader. It sounds like he’s up to the task. I’m super grateful he’s here.”

Yormark oversees a Big 12 Conference that boasts the best basketball league in America. The last two National Champions have come from the Big 12 in Kansas and Baylor. Texas Tech was in the National Championship game in 2019. Kansas was the favorite to win the title in 2020, a team BYU saw firsthand in the Maui Invitational before COVID-19 took away the tournament.

Big 12 Basketball Schedule

BYU’s first two years in the Big 12 will be a 14-team league with Texas and Oklahoma in the conference. Yormark said the basketball schedule would consist of an 18-game schedule for those first two years.

“It’s 18 quad one games, so there you go,” Pope said when asked about his thoughts on the number of Big 12 league games. “We’ve been chasing seven or eight or nine [quad ones], it felt like. We had to trade three-for-ones to get to nine, right? And now they’re just going to put 18 right on a platter for us. So, I do love it.”

BYU will officially play its final season in the WCC this year before joining Yormark’s Big 12 the following season. There’s a lot of rejoicing about the security the financials of Yormark’s deal will provide for programs like BYU moving forward. But the work is only beginning for Pope as he prepares his program for life in a power league.

“I think this is the best conference in the country,” Pope said. “By every metric in terms of national championships, data-driven analytics from KenPom and from Synergy and from the NET. In terms of Final Four appearances and in terms of NBA players. This conference is terrifying right now. It very well might be the best conference in college athletics, not just in college basketball. And so we’re moving into the real deal. … We can’t wait to get there, but it is coming with a bunch of challenges.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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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