Despite not winning a national championship, there’s an argument that the Gonzaga men’s basketball program has been the standard for the last five to ten years, excluding Villanova. Mark Few has produced a level of consistency that is difficult to match. Despite this, the possible move to a Power 6 conference seems to be too big of a carrot for the Zags basketball program to ignore.
Several reports say Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormak is aggressively courting Gonzaga. Last month, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported, “The conference has aggressively courted multiple Pac-12 schools, as well as Gonzaga, in a bid to further expand.”
Gonzaga’s current West Coast Conference rival, BYU, has already accepted a bid to join the Big 12 next school year. Texas and Oklahoma will head to the SEC in 2024. The Big 12 also adds Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati in response.
The opportunity of Gonzaga having multiple wars a season with basketball powerhouses Kansas, Baylor, and Houston is very compelling. The Big 12 has been the best and deepest conference in basketball the past few seasons, and the gap would only widen with the possible addition of Gonzaga.
It is easy to see why Gonzaga would be a draw for any conference. In a 2021 report, the men’s and women’s basketball programs earned $20 million in revenue. However, a union with the Big 12 would create massive travel expenses for the other sports teams.
The Pac-12 would seem to be a natural geographical fit for Gonzaga. In addition to the ease of travel, there would be a seamless transition for the other sports Gonzaga offers. The major roadblock is on the Pac-12’s side. They have yet to agree to a commitment with a TV network or streaming service to broadcast their games, which will likely prioritize football. Apple is reported to be considering acquiring the broadcast rights for Pac-12 sports.
With its two most prominent brands leaving the conference, the Pac-12 is in disarray. Ultimately, this causes some hang-ups in any potential deal between Gonzaga and the Pac-12, but the voids left by USC and UCLA still need to be filled.