Brett Yormark came into the commissioner’s chair last summer with a mandate to expand the Big 12′s footprint and revenue streams.
And after announcing exhibition basketball games in New York’s Rucker Park in March, Yormark is now taking his conference outside the country.
The Big 12 will play basketball, baseball and soccer games in Mexico in 2024. It is with the eventual goal of playing a bowl game in the country by 2026.
“Mexico is a natural extension to the Big 12 footprint, and I’m thrilled to introduce Big 12 Mexico as the Conference’s first-ever international presence,” Yormark said. “... Our conference will have the chance to showcase our brand across Mexico.”
Houston and Kansas will play the first basketball game in Mexico City in December of 2024. It will count as a non-conference game and be played at CDMX Arena. That venue has hosted multiple UFC events since 2014. Both the men’s and women’s programs will play.
The bowl game in 2026 would be played in Monterrey — about 10 hours away from Mexico City. Mexico has hosted several NFL games but has never hosted a college football bowl game.
The soccer and baseball games in 2024 are slated to be exhibition games against local teams.
The Big 12 has multiple teams within driving distance of Mexico. Houston, Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU are all long-term conference members stationed in Texas.
BYU also has some connections to Mexico. About 1.4 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in the country, according to the church’s data.
The Big 12′s international move is not uncommon for college athletics. Notre Dame will kick off the 2023 season in Dublin, Ireland.
BYU has played multiple International football games. In 1978, it played in Yokohama, Japan, against UNLV. It also traveled to Melbourne, Australia, to play Colorado State in 1987.
The Pac-12 recently tried to have an international series in China. Multiple teams played basketball games in Shanghai under former commissioner Larry Scott.
Those initiatives were ultimately viewed as unsuccessful. But much of that was due to the travel challenges that Mexico should not present to the Big 12.