Rampant speculation, but still a holding pattern for CU Buffs athletics
The Fourth of July weekend ended with Colorado still very much part of a Pac-12 Conference teetering on the brink of relevancy.
Whether that remains true for the Buffaloes through the first full week of July remains to be seen.
Tuesday found the future of CU athletics attached to a number of rumors, although the day ended without any resolution as the entire landscape of college athletics continues to undergo a massive reconstruction.
Following last week’s bombshell announcement by USC and UCLA that the schools, and the accompanying Los Angeles media market, will join the Big Ten in 2024, the next step for the Buffs and what remains of the Pac-12 has grown murky.
The Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff made one significant announcement on Tuesday, releasing a statement expediting the negotiations for the league’s long-beleaguered media rights deal. The statement read simply:
“The Pac-12 Board of Directors met (Tuesday) morning and authorized the Conference to immediately begin negotiations for its next media rights agreements.”
ESPN and FOX, the current rights holders with the Pac-12, hold exclusive bargaining rights with the Pac-12 for 30 days before the league can entertain other potential offers. A few hours later on Tuesday afternoon, CU released a similarly succinct statement credited jointly to athletic director Rick George and Chancellor Phil DiStefano that read:
“CU Boulder supports the decision of the Pac-12 Board of Directors this morning to begin conference media rights negotiations. We are committed to the Pac-12 Conference and look forward to being an active participant in those conversations.”
Outside of a pair of short statements released by CU since July 1, the athletics administration has been largely silent on the situation. So exactly is next for the Buffs? That depends on who you turn to.
A report published on Tuesday morning by CBS Sports said the Big 12 Conference, CU’s home before joining the Pac-12 a dozen years ago, was actively pursuing expansion with Pac-12 members, specifically naming the “Four Corners” schools of Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and CU as potential targets that were set to have a meeting with Big 12 officials on Tuesday. Oregon and Washington, the two schools at the crux of any survival effort for the Pac-12, also have been linked to potential Big 12 expansion and could still be pursued by the Big Ten if Notre Dame opts to retain its status as a football independent.
Adding all six of those Pac-12 teams would give the Big 12 a super conference answer to the Big Ten and SEC, which is welcoming Big 12 defectors Oklahoma and Texas. With the Big 12 already set to add BYU, UCF, Houston and Cincinnati, any expansion scenario that includes Washington and/or Oregon would give the league a national footprint that extends from the deep southeast (Orlando) diagonally across the country to the Pacific Northwest. However, a report posted on Tuesday from Oregon-based columnist John Canzano cited a “high-ranking” source from one of the Four Corners who said, “There is no meeting on the books for us with the Big 12, and George (Kliavkoff) is kicking (butt).”
In another twist for CU that might signal change is imminent, the Board of Regents announced a special board meeting for Tuesday night in order to discuss, “Legal advice on a specific matter – PAC 12 athletics update.”