The meeting is expected to be the first step in seeing if the two conferences would benefit strategically from working together in the future as college sports goes through a new phase of realignment, with the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma officially set to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in July 2025.
Commissioners Bob Bowlsby (Big 12) & George Kliavkoff (Pac-12) meeting today to begin discussions on several topics on how leagues can work together, including possible schedule alliance or merger, sources told @Stadium. 1st reported by @max_olson
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 3, 2021
According to The Athletic‘s Max Olson, the options include a scheduling alliance between the schools, a merger, or even the Big 12 working with the Pac-12 to aggregate their negotiating rights for their next TV deal.
Bowlsby has recently said that the value of the Big 12’s current TV deal will be cut in half once Texas and Oklahoma leave.
When the news of the two powerhouse schools leaving for the SEC became official, Bowlsby began looking for options, with the Longhorns and Sooners representing the conference’s two biggest revenue-generating schools.
From a swimming perspective, a possible Pac-12/Big 12 merge would make logical sense, bringing together the two least-populated conferences. From a competitive standpoint, the majority of Pac-12 schools would out-class the few remaining teams in the Big 12 in the pool.
At the 2021 NCAA Championships, the two teams that finished second at Big 12s behind Texas—the Kansas women and West Virginia men—qualified a combined two swimmers and scored five total points (though WVU did qualify multiple non-scoring divers).
The Pac-12 could benefit from a merge in terms of getting more eyes on its games if some are now contested in the Central Time Zone. As it currently stands, having competitions solely in the Pacific Time Zone means the Pac-12 is missing out on a huge section of the non-hardcore-fan population due to the late start times.