College football expansion: Big 12 may change name in historic sponsor deal

Another historic first could be coming to college football as the Big 12 is exploring a major sponsorship deal that could see the conference changing its name.
Scenes from a college football game during the NCAA season.
Scenes from a college football game during the NCAA season. / USA Today Sports | Imagn

Among the many changes we're seeing across college football, the Big 12 could embark on one of the biggest as the conference is exploring a name change as part of a historic sponsorship deal.

The league has engaged in discussions about taking on a corporate sponsor that would take the "Big" from the Big 12 name and replace it with that company's name, according to ESPN college football insider Pete Thamel.

Big 12 members have been looking into an arrangement of this kind for nearly all of this year as the league has been searching for new ways to raise revenue.

And quite a bit of revenue it would be, too: Thamel reports a potential corporate sponsorship deal of this kind would net the Big 12 hundreds of millions of dollars.

Action Network reported the deal could be as much as $50 million every year for the conference.

News of the Big 12's interest in a corporate sponsor comes as it was revealed the league is also exploring a potential investment from a European private equity fund that could bring the conference up to $1 billion in exchange for a 15 to 20 percent stake in the operation.

While the Big 12 was one of the more active conferences to take part in last year's historic league realignment — adding Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona State after losing Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC — current estimates contend the league is still behind the SEC and Big Ten in revenue.

But with a cash injection from a private equity fund and a major sponsorship deal, the Big 12 could be on the verge of matching their principal rivals on the realignment front.

And in the process, it could completely change the business of college football forever.

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James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.