Sports

Big12, Pac-12 discuss potential partnership

Bob Bowlsby and George Kliavkoff, the commissioners of the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences, are meeting Tuesday to discuss the viability of a strategic partnership between the conferences, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.

The meeting, which was first reported by The Athletic, does not signify an expectation for an official partnership to materialize, only that both commissioners are vetting options for how to move forward in the wake of Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.

In an appearance before the Texas Senate on Tuesday, Bowlsby raised the possibility of the Big 12 partnering or merging with another conference and, at Pac-12 media day last week, Kliavkoff told ESPN he wouldn’t rule on a scheduling alliance with another conference or expansion.

“We’re, on purpose, not reaching out and trying to poach any schools, but my phone has blown up — absolutely blown up over the last five days,” Kliavkoff said. “And I’ve got lots and lots of calls from probably every school you would imagine and probably a few you’d be surprised by. We’re listening to all inbound inquiries, because it seems like the smart thing to do.”

Kliavkoff’s stance is that Texas and Oklahoma’s departure strengthens the Pac-12’s national footing as the only Power 5 conference with teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones.

“I think, over time, the dominoes will start falling as a result of the move by Texas and Oklahoma,” Kliavkoff said. “And we’re not determined that we need to expand in order to thrive; we can thrive at 12. We don’t understand the paradigm that if someone else has 16, you need to have 16. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Tuesday’s meeting comes roughly a month after Kliavkoff started in his role with the Pac-12. He was hired to replace longtime commissioner Larry Scott in May after previously serving as the president of entertainment and sports at MGM Resorts International.

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