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Big 12 Enterting Early Contract Discussions With Media Partners

The Big 12 plans to enter into early contract discussions with its multi-media partners in order to explore a possible “accelerated extension of its current agreements,” the conference announced Wednesday.

“It is an exciting time for college athletics and given the changing landscape we welcome the opportunity to engage with our partners to determine if an early extension is in the best interest of all parties,” Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. “The Big 12 has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with its multi-media rights holders, and I look forward to having these conversations.”

ESPN’s Peter Thamel first reported the news that the Big 12 was entering new contract talks with ESPN and Fox. The conference currently has media right deals with the networks through the end of the 2024 football season.

While ESPN acknowledged that it “regularly” engages in conversations with its various league partners, the network denied opening up an official contractual negotiation window with the Big 12.

“We regularly engage in conversation around the future with all of our partners, but to be clear, we have not opened the contractual negotiation window with the Big 12 at this time,” ESPN said in a statement to The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach.

The conversations between the Big 12, ESPN and Fox are expected to begin soon, but there is no set timeline for the various parties to strike a deal, according to Thamel.

The Big 12’s decision to push for accelerated negotiations comes just weeks after the Big Ten struck a seven-year agreement with multiple broadcast partners worth more than $7 billion plus escalators. The deal, which begins in 2023, notably left ESPN out of the conference’s list of media partners. 

Meanwhile, Yorkmark, who was officially introduced as the Big 12 commissioner on June 29 just a day before USC and UCLA went to the Big Ten, made clear that he plans to be aggressive in strengthening the league in whatever way possible. According to Max Olson of The Athletic, Yormark said at Big 12 media days in July that the Big 12 is “open for business.”

“I think there’s incredible upside with the Big 12,” he said, per Olson. “It’s one of the reasons I’m here today. We have a chance to build our brand and business, nationalize our conference in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

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