School presidents from both Arizona and Arizona State have rebuffed interest in a potential move to the Big 12 in their first public statements on the matter as contentious Pac-12 media rights negotiations remain ongoing. Talked has gained steam over the past several weeks that the Big 12 is ready to pounce on the "Four Corner" schools -- Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah -- if the Pac-12's deal is underwhelming.
"There have been no discussions with the Big 12 Conference on moving," Arizona State president Michael Crow told The State Press. "I mean, there's been discussions between everyone everywhere on all things related to where our conference is going and where stuff's going to end up and what's happening. We are committed to the Pac-12."
The statement comes as the Pac-12 fights through difficult media rights negotiations. CBS and FOX have reportedly pulled out of negotiations. Apple TV+ and Amazon have emerged as potential streaming partners, but the level of interest is unclear. ESPN remains engaged but it's unclear what number the Pac-12 could expect from the linear provider.
"It's heavily dependent on [commissioner George Kliavkoff] and his team negotiating a good media deal for us to stay competitive," Arizona president Robert Robbins told the San Jose Mercury News. "I don't think anyone wants to leave. Why would you move for a couple million dollars a year more?"
Of course, the gaps between the have and have-not conferences in college football continue to grow. The Big Ten signed a contract with CBS, FOX and NBC that will pay schools an average of $75 million per season in television revenue alone. The Big 12 signed a contract extension with ESPN and FOX that is expected to pays schools just shy of $32 million per year. The ACC's deal, for comparison, pays out only $17 million per school and runs through 2036.
Crow told The State Press that the Pac-12 is close to reaching a deal, and many around the league identify March as a key window to reach a deal with just one year remaining until the current Pac-12 media contract expires. Multiple reports note the Big 12 believes that if it can convince one school to join the league, the three others would follow to secure their long-term future.
During the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, high-profile Big 12 coaches like Kansas coach Bill Self and Kansas State coach Jerome Tang spoke openly about adding the "Four Corner" schools.
"I've always thought the Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah are a natural fit for us," Tang said. "Who doesn't want to visit Arizona?"