77 Days: Big 12 Exploring Selling Naming Rights to the Conference

Brett Yormark appears to be on the verge of something truly disastrous in the name of revenue.
Dec 2, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA;  Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark before the game between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark before the game between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The news came across my timeline and I wondered when we jumped back to the beginning of April. According to ESPN, the Big 12 Conference has been exploring the possibility of selling the naming rights to the conference itself in the near future. While the amount being reported is in "the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the deal", there is no indication how long that deal would last. But it could fundamentally change the way we think about college sports. Instead of playing in the Big 12, the Kansas Jayhawks could theoretically be playing in something like the "FedEx 12" as early as next season.

From the article:

The commercial sponsor would potentially take the name "Big" out of Big 12 and replace it with the sponsor's name. It could end up as one of the largest commercial deals in collegiate athletics history, not including media rights.

It's an interesting concept in theory, as constant conference realignment has pretty much destroyed any real sense of conference nostalgia tied into most of the names currently being used. The Big Ten is the only conference that is still around in its original form, but the membership and footprint are so vastly different that it's hard to argue that we are looking at anything that would keep those conference names sacred any longer.

But that's where the idea should stay: in theory. I understand that thefinancial realities of college sports is leading to exploring all possibilities for revenue, but this feels like a step too far. The "Allstate 12" won't have any meaning in the sports world, especially with the conference no longer having 12 members. While "The Big 12 presented by Allstate" would be okay, it still feels like a massive sell-out of the sport and the final straw in turning this into a professional sport all the way around.

I realize that I'm probably in the minority on this. And it seems like multiple other conferences are also exploring the idea. But its seems highly unlikely that this sort of deal will bring in more than a couple million a year for each school, which is not nearly enough to make a dent in the huge disparity between the Big 12 and the two cash cow conferences. Maybe I'll be proven wrong when the details come out, but it feels an awful lot like selling your soul for pennies on the dollar.


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Andy Mitts

ANDY MITTS

Andy Mitts is an alumnus of the University of Kansas, graduating in 2007. He previously covered the Jayhawks at Rock Chalk Talk and is now the editor-in-chief at Blue Wing Rising. He hosts the Kansas-themed Rock Chalk Podcast, and is VP of Membership of the Ten 12 Podcast Network. Follow him on Twitter @AndyMitts12.