By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
The Big 12 is continuing to change and evolve through expansion, and both Baylor men’s and women’s basketball have the chance to benefit from it.
As announced by Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark during the Big 12 Basketball Tipoff on Tuesday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., starting in 2024 —when the league adds four new schools and sees Texas and Oklahoma depart — the men will play 20 conference games while the women take part in 18 contests.
Yormark also said the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship will join the men’s postseason battle in the T-Mobile Center. The women have played in the Municipal Auditorium, a smaller and older venue, for most of the league’s existence, dating back to 1997.
“They deserve to be in a world-class venue,” Yormark said. “I’m excited that this year we’ll have both the men’s and women’s tournaments at [the] T-Mobile Center.”
The commissioner detailed how the deal with the entertainment venue and the conference are currently extended until 2027, but Yormark said he aims to keep the T-Mobile Center the home of Big 12 hoops through 2031.
“Kansas City has been a great home for the Big 12 basketball championships,” Yormark said.
Alongside the venue, the extended conference schedule will allow soon-to-be new Big 12 schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado) to get acquainted quickly while extending the competitive level of play with rivals leaving the conference.
“For basketball, it’s looking like a 20-game schedule and 18 for women is in our future, and on the football front we’re working diligently as well,” Yormark said. “Our schedule is being guided by a few key parameters, including geography, competitive balance, historic matchups and rivalries.”
By comparison, Baylor men’s and women’s basketball played 18 conference games in 2022-23.
The changes may seem small, but Yormark has said the vision is to keep the Big 12 at the forefront as one of — if not the best — leagues in the country. Baylor women’s basketball head coach Nicki Collen said the addition of the Four Corners schools provides more depth and strength to the conference and that these next two years are going to be “unique.”
“When you go from a true champion and everybody playing everybody home-and-home to these unbalanced schedules and who you play, when you play them, where you play them, how many times you play them, it’s really going to impact seeding in this Big 12 Tournament which is really going to be exciting here at T-Mobile,” Collen said.
Yormark also left the door wide open for even more expansion on Tuesday.
“There’s nothing imminent,” Yormark said. “But I do explore all options that come to me, and if it creates value for membership both short and long-term, we’re going to explore it even more.”