Aug 2, 2023 - Sports

Arizona Wildcats at center of Big 12 speculation as teams bolt Pac-12

The Roman numerals for 12 on a basketball court with a basketball on the ground in front of them.

Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pac-12 will become the Pac-9 after the 2023-24 academic year, and it might whittle down to eight if the Sun Devils or Wildcats bolt from the conference to become the 14th team in the Big 12.

Driving the news: Colorado's board of regents last week approved the university's decision to leave the Pac-12 and return to the Big 12, where it will become the conference's 13th team.

  • Texas and Oklahoma are exiting to join the SEC.
  • The Big 12 is also adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

State of play: The Big 12 is reportedly looking to add a 14th team for the 2024-25 season, and ASU and UofA are among the schools it's eying.

  • ASU, UofA and Utah are the three likeliest options, and Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that "all eyes are on Arizona" to see if one or both of our schools leave the Pac-12.
  • UofA is the "key first domino" because of its athletic pedigree and the Big 12's desire to emphasize basketball and increase its international appeal.

What to watch: The Pac-12 presented its proposed new TV deal to members Tuesday, which could be an enticement for teams to stay put if the money is right.

  • There was no agreement on the proposal, but another meeting will happen soon, CBS Sports reported.
  • ESPN's Pete Thamel reported the proposal is primarily an Apple streaming deal.

What they're saying: UofA had no comment, and spokespeople for ASU didn't respond to an inquiry from Axios Phoenix.

Flashback: ASU and UofA left the Western Athletic Conference for what was then the Pac-8 in 1978.

  • Prior to joining the WAC in 1962, both schools were members of the Border Conference. UofA, Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe (which is now ASU) and Arizona State Teachers College in Flagstaff (which is now NAU) joined the conference together in 1931.

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