Colorado leaving Pac-12, rejoining Big 12 in 2024

By Kevin Kelley -

The Colorado Buffaloes will depart the Pac-12 Conference and rejoin the Big 12 Conference in 2024, it was announced on Thursday.

“After careful thought and consideration, it was determined that a switch in conference would give CU Boulder the stability, resources, and exposure necessary for long-term future success in a college athletics environment that is constantly evolving,” Chancellor Philip DiStefano and Athletic Director Rick George said in a statement. “The Big 12’s national reach across three time zones as well as our shared creative vision for the future we feel makes it an excellent fit for CU Boulder, our students, faculty, and alumni.

“These decisions are never easy and we’ve valued our 12 years as proud members of the Pac-12 Conference. We look forward to achieving new goals while embarking on this exciting next era as members of the Big 12 Conference.”

Colorado was a member of the Big 12 Conference from 1996 through the 2010 season before they left for the Pac-12 in 2011.

“I want to thank the Pac 12 Conference for the home it has provided to CU athletics for more than a decade,” University of Colorado President Todd Saliman said. “We look forward to maintaining the many partnerships developed with our Pac 12 colleagues. The landscape of collegiate sports is ever-evolving, and the University of Colorado Boulder has determined the Big 12 is the best future fit for our athletic teams.

“The move is good for our student-athletes and the university. It will help advance our commitment to supporting CU student-athletes in their academic and athletic pursuits in future years. I look forward to a great season ahead for all our teams.”

News of Colorado rejoining the Big 12 Conference was first reported by Brett McMurphy of Action Network on Wednesday. According to the report, Colorado is returning to the Big 12 due to “…the Big 12’s stability under commissioner Brett Yormark; a more lucrative financial outlook in the Big 12; the uncertainty of the Pac-12’s future without USC and UCLA; and the inability of Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff to secure a new Grant of Rights deal in the past 12 months.”

Colorado will stand to improve its financial position with the move back to the Big 12, per the report:

In the Big 12, Colorado will receive $31.7 million annually in media rights revenue (not including other league revenue from College Football Playoff, etc.) once the Big 12’s new six-year, $2.3 billion Grant of Rights deal with ESPN and FOX begins in 2025, sources said. That’s the same amount each Big 12 member will receive.

In 2024, Colorado also will receive a full Big 12 revenue share, including media rights and other league revenue, estimated to be about $42 million, a source said.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark released a short, simple statement following Colorado’s reacceptance into the league.

“They’re back,” Yormark said.

The 2023 season will be the last for Colorado in the Pac-12 and it will also be the first under the leadership of head coach Deion Sanders, aka Coach Prime.

Future Colorado Football Schedules

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Comments (23)

Not a buffs fan, but I live in Denver. I’ll attend more CU games to watch Big XII games than I’ve gone to watch PAC games.

I would think the Pac-12 goes after Colorado State to keep the Denver market. SDSU and UNLV should still replace the LA schools.

The Big 12 should also add Boise State, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and UConn. This would primarily be about getting into more major markets.

Like the news has suggested, the Big 12 will start out seeing if any of the other Pac 12 schools decide to make the jump to the Big 12. There’s lots of smoke around Arizona, who apparently has had a bunch of talks with the Big 12 while Arizona State and Utah were both dismissing the idea.

Sifting through the other “sources say” stuff to look for things that ring true, the Big 12 will likely add an even number (including Colorado), and the Big 12 tv partners sound like they’d prefer to cut things off at 16 at most. So we’ll see Colorado plus 1 or 3 more.

If they’re Power 5 schools (which, at this point basically means Pac 12 schools) they will get a full share of tv money… the same amount the 12 current members will get with the new tv deal. If they add any group of 5 schools they’ll likely start as a smaller portion and work their way up. Aaaaand the Pac 12 members currently can leave without paying a departure penalty since there isn’t a tv deal that covers anything after the upcoming season. (This isn’t how it would work for, say, a MWC school like SDSU who would be paying a significant departure fee AND be starting out with a smaller portion of Big 12 tv money.

So, expect the rest of the Pac 12 schools to give the Big 12 a long look, especially if there isn’t a reasonably close Pac 12 tv deal coming out ASAP (and if the Big 10 isn’t on the phone).

The Pac 12 still has a chance to shore things up and stabilize, but if it doesn’t happen rather quickly, Arizona won’t be the only one looking to make moves. The pressure is on because, on one hand, they could add 1 or 3 schools (even though, the MWC still has that stubborn exit fee) and be fine… but if that looks like it’s taking too long… look, the magic “upper limit” for conference size seems to currently be 16. If that holds, and no one goes for 18 or 20 or 24… the Big 12 has up to 3 more slots, and the MWC has up to 4 more slots. 9 remaining Pac 12 members minus 3 slots minus 4 slots… means there’s a chance that 2 teams from the Pac 12 wouldn’t get into either the Big 12 or the backup landing spot in the MWC. No one would want to be those 2 teams. (But someone could be those 2 if the Big 10 doesn’t expand and the Pac 12 doesn’t get their contract worked out…)

Side note, I love the idea of Tulane and Memphis in the Big 12… but… the pecking order for who the Big 12 will invite probably looks like

1. 1 to 3 more Pac 12 schools… with Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Washington, and Oregon being a step ahead of the other 4.

2. UConn, who they’ve been in touch with for a while. There would be an exit fee for the Big East… but the Big 12 has already been exploring that with them.

3. Everyone else. USF, Memphis, SDSU, UNLV, etc. I unfortunately haven’t even seen Tulane mentioned. Same with Temple. Boise is more likely to be a Pac 12 candidate if they have to expand by more than just 1 or 3. SMU’s geography almost makes TOO much sense, by not expanding much of anything at all when you already have TCU, Baylor, Houston, and Texas Tech, which is why they’re more likely to be invited to the Pac 12 than the Big 12.

I imagine the ACC has to be wondering what it should be doing too. Add 2 schools? Prepare to lose schools that are currently trapped with their out-of-sync tv deal that comes up several years after everyone else’s.

Going after Colorado State and UNLV doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t make the Pac 12 better. Those are nice markets and nice sounding schools, but they’re not brands and they’re not going to bring eyeballs to TV, to streaming or where ever these games are shown. Everybody misses the boat here. You can’t lose brands and just add inferior products. Is anybody excited about Colorado State at Oregon State.

Boise State
South Florida

Connecticut is a basketball brand, they might help——but man, other than me, who follows them in football!

Also, the first tenure of the Buffs in the Big 12 dates back to 1947, when they joined what later became the Big 8, which then became the Big 12 but the charter only dates back to 1996 and the Big 12 doesn’t claim the Big 8’s history even though the continuity between conferences is obvious.

WELCOME BACK BUFFS!!! I’m 63, we moved from N-Carolina to S-Carolina in 1976. I remember watching the ACC at 12 or 1, and then watching the SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE at 3 or 4. I remember a game where COLORADO was playing at home, they were either tied or behind, it was SWONING. Not much time on the clock and they had to score to win. I don’t remember who they were playing, but I was pulling for the BUFFS. THEY moved down the field and won the game, I jumped up and went running the the house shouting THE BUFFS WON, THE BUFFS WON!!!


Eventually, there will three 24-team superconferences. I can’t see the Pac 12 and the ACC surviving, maybe one, but not all. I guess you could have three 18-team superconferences.

You can’t replacce Colorado with Colorado State. Reason: Nobody cares about Colorado State

You can’t just add Temple to the Big 12: Reason: Nobody cares

You can’t add San Diego State to the Pac 12: Again, nobody cares. You’re not “keeping” the LA market by adding SD State. Obviously, in a 24-team superconference, you could take them, but that’s just to have safety in numbers, but adding Aztecs to existing Pac 12 is not going to help conference secure major media deal.

Everybody goes down the same path because it’s fun. When a school leaves one for another, we all like to play the “who should they get game.”: I agree it is a fun.

Look at The American–they lost Cincinnati, UCF and Houston and replaced with what–Charlotte, UTSA and a couple others—-nobody cares. Junkies will watch Charlotte visit Temple, but few others.

Yes I agree somewhat.

I do think PAC needs to add some warm bodies just to stay alive in the short term. Without CO they’re down to 9 teams. Lose another to BIG12 and Oregon/Washington to BIG10 then their done.

At least if they can add 3-5 teams and lose those teams they’ll still be a conference. Of course, much weaker but still alive.

BIG12 is setting themselves as the 3rd best conference and that writing has been on the wall.

I’m a Uconn fan and I know BIG12 commish has been on campus this summer. As much as I love the Big East they wouldn’t be able to turn down that money.

If they wait for a ACC invite who knowns who will be left after 2036.

Colorado left the Big 12 because they were crap. Now 12 years later they leave the Pac12 because they’re crap. Yes, the conference is in bad shape, but as a Pac-12 fan, I would rather lose Colorado than add San Diego State. If they lose to USC this year, they will be the only school to not win at least once against every other school during the Pac-12 era.

I haven’t done any research about it.

I do know UTX, OKU forfeited 100 Million in 2024-2025 Revenue as their Deal to leave the B12 after 2024.

I don’t know where 42 Million will come from.

is the PAC 12 still considered a powere 5 at this point? it is basically oregon and a bunch of middle of the road programs

Oregon-maybe gone
Washington-maybe gone
Oregon State-LOL
Stanford-40 years to late
California-were they good ever?
Arizona-Bball i guess

The whole P5 thing was such BS to begin with Kansas, Vandy, Oregon State aren’t P5 teams.

Oregon and Washington are in an interesting spot. Wait and hope for a BIG10 invite or just join the BIG12.

Maybe they can have a opt out but I don’t know if the BIG12 would go for that.

I think the question is: does the Big 12 want to rent teams or own them?

If they make a deal with Oregon, (or Oregon/Washington and a 16th team), it seems likely that Oregon (and Washington if they’re there) will just be joining until they secure a Big 10 (or SEC, but that seems less likely) invitation. The current Big 12 deal is for 6 years? I imagine that would be the latest Oregon would be trying to move along, and that they would potentially be a school that would consider buying their way out early if they need to.

If the Big 12 were to add Arizona, (or Arizona, ASU, and Utah… or some other combo), it seems like they’ll be in for the long haul, barring anything that totally reshuffles the entire conference. Aaaand, even if not… if by some chance Utah somehow nabbed an invitation to the Big 10 (seems unlikely any time soon), then… ***shrug*** … is it a big deal?

Part of the stability of the 13 members who definitely will be in the conference next year is that there are a ton of solid athletic departments and none of them are necessarily looking like a departure to another conference is imminent. And even beyond that, if any 1 or 2 of those 13 did leave, it really wouldn’t shake up the status of the league much. There’s no “if they lose this team, they’ll get demoted” situation at this point (as long as they keep at least 12… maybe even 10? of their current membership). Oregon and Washington would be the 2 schools that would look the closest to being that, not because they’d necessarily own the conference in any particular sport, but because of their brands.

So, do you go with the 2 biggest brands and just prepare to hear about how they’re in contact with the Big 10 from time to time? Prepare to replace them if/when that call ever comes? Or do you stuck with the solid programs that aren’t as likely to be looking around so you look fully stable.

I’m not sure there’s a right answer without being able to see the future.

HA HA I live in Southern Colorado currently and I am born and raised in Southern California.. So Colorado couldn’t stand UCLA and USC and decides to bolt to Big 12, Because Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma are no longer will be in Big 12 in 2024. So CU will think will big games and get to win Big 12 Titles . Good luck with that.

I’m pretty sure it has more to do with the fact that 1) the Pac 12 still doesn’t have a tv deal, 2) they had at least some success back when their recruiting grounds included Texas and haven’t had much at all with Cali, so they’ll give Texas recruiting a try again (plus Florida), 3) I’m not sure any of their potential rivalries in the Pac 12 really blossomed while they at least have familiarity and history with Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State… plus Baylor and Texas Tech to a lesser extent, and 4) apparently even with the Big 12 being as spread out as it is now, travel distances will actually be shorter for Colorado than they were in the Pac 12. Oh, also, 5) (which is probably almost as important as 1), the Big 12 now has a bunch of athletic departments that aren’t top tier but are all pretty solid. The Pac 12 has 2 teams that are the biggest brands that are going to be constantly looking for their next big break. If the Big 12 loses any 2 of their teams, they’ll keep on going. If the Pac 12 loses Oregon and Washington, the status of the conference will change completely. So… stability.

I have no particular reason to defend Colorado, this just seemed like insults just for insults’ sake, and not really based on why this move seems to have happened.