MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — College basketball season has arrived. The games are still a few weeks away, but the Big 12 Conference hosted day one of its annual Big 12 Tipoff event inside T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on Tuesday.
Commissioner Brett Yormark has one full season of Big 12 basketball under his belt, and much like the players and coaches, he is preparing for another year in what is arguably the best college basketball conference in the country.
He was asked his opinion on that and many other topics on Tuesday. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from his time in front of the media in KC.
The future of Big 12 hoops scheduling
The Big 12 will expand to 16 teams starting next July. The league altered the scheduling format for basketball this year, as all teams play five in-conference opponents twice and the remaining eight teams once.
According to Commissioner Yormark, that format will be in place for just this season. A new scheduling format will take hold once the Big 12 officially expands to 16 league members next summer.
“It is looking like a 20-game conference schedule for men, and 18 for women is in our future,” said Yormark.
Asked directly about the two-game difference between the men’s and women’s formula, Yormark stated that was the recommendation of the coaches, as well as the earlier start date of the women’s tournament. The commissioner also said that beginning next season, women’s basketball teams will play three teams twice and all other league opponents once.
The future of Big 12 football scheduling
Of course, the upcoming expansion also impacts football. This year, the conference moved away from its traditional round-robin schedule format.
Much like in hoops, there are expected changes coming for the 2024 football season. While there is no anticipated change to the number of conference games, the league opponents each team will face could see a shakeup.
“Our schedule is being guided by a few key parameters: geography, competitive balance, historic matchups, and rivalries,” said Yormark. “More details will be released in the coming weeks when it comes to our football schedule.”
While Yormark did not tip his hand as to exactly what the future of Big 12 football schedules could look like, he did give some insight into when fans could learn that answer.
Yormark told KSLSports that the Big 12 will likely make an announcement regarding the 2024 football schedule in “late November, December.”
Keeping the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship tournament has been played at T-Mobile Center, formerly known as the Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Missouri annually since 2010. The tournament has been played in KC all but five times since 1997.
Meanwhile, the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship tournament will be played in Kansas City for the fourth straight year in March. This tournament has bounced around and called five different arenas home since its inception.
Both tournaments will share T-Mobile Center for the first time this season, with the women’s tournament (March 7-12) preceding the men’s tournament (March 12-16). The goal for Yormark and the league office is to keep these two tournaments in the same city for the extended future.
“Kansas City has been a great home for the Big 12 Basketball Championships. Because of that, we are currently in discussions on an early extension to keep the Big 12 Basketball Championships right here in Kansas City at T-Mobile [Center] through 2031,” said Yormark. “While nothing is definitive at this point, we are excited by the prospect of calling Kansas City home for years to come. We hope to finalize this by the basketball championships next spring.”
According to Yormark, the 2023 men’s tournament was the “highest ticket grossing” in league history, and the most recent women’s tournament saw a 20 percent year-over-year increase in ticket revenue.
Tickets for the 2024 Big 12 Basketball Championship tournaments will go on sale on Nov. 10.
Big 12 international efforts focused on Mexico City
The Big 12 announced the creation of Big 12 Mexico back in June. As part of the announcement, men’s and women’s basketball games between Kansas and Houston are scheduled in Mexico City for December 2024.
Also in the announcement were notes of potential future football bowl games, and Big 12 women’s soccer and baseball games in Mexico.
Yormark spoke Tuesday to the Big 12’s future in the United State’s neighbor to the south, and elsewhere:
“When I took the job, and I was somewhat familiar with some of the international play that the different conferences were engaged in, I didn’t want to partake in one-off, a football game this year in Dublin, a football game somewhere else. I wanted to have a vested interest, and we chose Mexico City for all the right reasons,” he said. “That’s where we’re going to put our energies and emphasis right now. Basketball will be our first entry into the market.”