Zags talking to Big 12

From ESPN:

Sources: Gonzaga in talks with Big 12 about joining conference

Gonzaga’s athletic director met in person with the Big 12 commissioner last week as part of broader discussions about the Zags joining the Big 12, sources told ESPN. The discussions are part of the possibility of a seismic move of the basketball powerhouse leaving the West Coast Conference for a power conference.

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark met with Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford at the Hyatt in Frisco, Texas, while the Zags were in the Dallas area to play Tennessee in a scrimmage, according to sources.

The move backs up Yormark’s promises of the Big 12 to be aggressive and “open for business,” and it could end up shifting the landscape of college basketball.

Sources indicate that Gonzaga has been exploring its conference options, as it has emerged as one of the premier basketball programs in the country. Both the Pac-12 and the Big East have been engaged with Gonzaga, according to sources, but the extent of those conversations is uncertain.

Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference, a mid-major conference it has consistently dominated as it has grown into one of the top programs in the sport. The school has been transparent with the WCC about its conversations.

The Big 12 targeting Gonzaga as a potential addition to bolster its basketball isn’t a surprise, as the conference has been regarded in recent seasons as the top basketball league in the country. The Big 12 boasts the past two men’s basketball national champions – Kansas and Baylor – and was an overtime loss by Texas Tech in 2019 from having three consecutive NCAA champions.

The addition of Gonzaga to the Big 12 would be a massive shift in the landscape, as it would perpetuate the Big 12’s reputation atop the sport. Gonzaga’s men’s basketball program played in the national title game in 2017 and 2021. Gonzaga has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in four of the past five years.

Yormark has been open about the league’s desire to expand. He has spoken openly about adding a fourth time zone and programs with national cachet. The Big 12 and its television partners, ESPN and Fox, are near agreement on a six-year extension that includes a significant pay raise. How any potential payout would trickle down to a school without football is uncertain, but the idea of Gonzaga playing Kansas, Baylor, BYU and Texas Tech in basketball league play would be attractive to television partners.

The notion of Gonzaga potentially joining the Big 12 was brought up by the conference with its television partners in a cursory manner in conversations about the league’s new television deal recently. But the potential addition had nothing to do with the Big 12’s final deal.

“It was hinted at,” said a person familiar with the Big 12 deal. “It came up in a quiet manner. It’s a positive, but it’s not a financial game-changer.”

At the end of the day, they should just go. I don’t think the WCC should beg them to stay.
Yes, they are massive. Yes, they provide plenty of credits (which they harvest).
If this gives other teams a chance to win the WCC, that ultimately benefits us.

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I would prefer Gonzaga stay in the WCC. Their success and dominance has forced everyone else to get better. It’s taken SCU a long time but we seem to be finally headed in that direction along with USF and St Mary’s has already achieved success. Gonzaga also fits in with the WCC as a small Catholic/religious school. For Gonzaga, joining the BIG 12 would, in my opinion, impair their other sports programs. Added travel costs for non-money making sports would hurt the school. As for BB, the BIG 12 would put the Zags in a much deeper pool.

Of course, as far as I am concerned, the whole aspect of college sports has gone crazy with all the conference re-alignments none of which seem good for the “student athlete”. Whatever happens, Go Broncos!!!~


Wholeheartedly agree with you, Maddog, we are better off if they stay. I fully understand Gonzaga flirting with the other conferences, but I believe ultimately they will stay in the WCC. I really think it would have helped the conference overall if they could’ve won it all in 2017 and/or 2021 (perhaps players would take the WCC schools more seriously). Having Lavin coaching in the conference, especially with his recruiting skills, should help boost the conference, too. I live in SD, so I’m looking forward to attending some USD games this year and seeing how he does.

I prefer the Zags to stay and think that they will. But if the choice is more bending to their petty whims or allowing them to jump to the Big-12, I would show them the door and enjoy the likely schadenfreude to come.

The Big-12 is a football conference, and an unstable one at that. Every school in that conference jumps to the Big 10 or SEC if they get an invite, which is not where I would want to be. And they would go from WCC Goliath to Big-12 small fry. They would have the 3rd best basketball program in the conference and no football team. That immediately makes them 13th out of 13 in overall negotiating power. And yeah yeah NIL tectonic shifts, but NIL is more likely to wreck the Big-12 than elevate it. That league is, at best, the 4th most powerful conference, just above the hapless Pac-12. When units get divided, the big dogs of the conference will whittle away at Gonzaga’s share and cackle when the Zags talk about their latest Sweet 16 appearance: “ESPN pays for our football games. Your tourney run is cute and all, but take what you’re given or else go talk to the Mountain West. I hear UNLV might be top-60 KenPom next year–that’s fun!” Plus, good luck sending the volleyball team to central Florida and West Virginia every year.

Anyways, I sincerely hope my Zag friends get to celebrate a national title this year. But man am I over Mark Few’s longing glances at other conferences.


As usual I agree with Patty.

Isn’t this like the 7th time discussion of GU leaving has cropped up in last 10 years??? Enough already…just leave. I’m beyond the point of caring. I’ll continue to support SCU and Bronco hoops regardless. I do have an affinity for the WCC in general as well; and while a GU departure may hurt the league in the near term, it also isn’t healthy for the league to constantly be worrying about GU leaving and the special deals and bending over backwards to please them to get them to stay. Let 'em go then plot a path forward without them.

Like others I think it may be unwise for GU to leave, especially to an unstable football conference like the B12 and also agree the travel would be murder for volleyball, baseball, etc…but frankly that’s their problem, if they want to take the risk so be it. IMO, given the current makeup of the Big East and B12 the B12 is now just as far flung, maybe more so than the Big East so the Big East is now a better option IMO. Plus Big East is hoops centric and mostly private/catholic schools that are more similar to GU (Creighton, Georgetown, Nova) while the Big12 is mostly large public universities.
But again…just be done with it, make a decision and move on.


Frankly, I do not think Gonzaga is going to dominate these next couple of years as they have in the past. I think they are up for the same rude awakening that BYU got last year.