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Big 12 launches 'international extension' into Mexico, exploring potential bowl game for 2026

May 04, 2023

The Big 12 announced an international extension in Mexico on Thursday, with upcoming games planned for men's and women's basketball, women's soccer and baseball. The initiative, titled "Big 12 Mexico," is set to launch in December 2024 with Kansas and Houston squaring off at Arena CDMX in Mexico City for both men's and women's basketball games. Exhibition games featuring to-be-announced Big 12 baseball and women's soccer teams against local clubs are to follow.

Also on the Big 12's radar is potential bowl game in Monterrey, Mexico, starting after the 2026 college football regular season. Estadio BBVA, a 53,500-seat stadium in Monterrey, has been the target venue for any Mexico-based Big 12 football games as the conference seeks to make its mark south of the border, according to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

The bowl game, should it materialize, would be the first held in Mexico. The Bahamas Bowl is the lone international game in the current Bowl Season lineup.

"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," Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. "Through Big 12 Mexico, our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in an international setting, and our Conference will have the chance to showcase our brand across Mexico."

The Big 12 plans to partner with Zignia, a Mexico City-based live entertainment agency, to market the conference prior to the athletic events taking place. Among other efforts to grow an international audience, the conference is also seeking to secure Spanish radio broadcasts for both the Big 12 football and basketball title games starting for the 2023-24 season.

Big 12 Mexico comes as a part of a larger effort under Yormark, who assumed the role of commissioner last summer, to expand the conference's reach as it prepares for the departures of flagships Oklahoma and Texas in Summer 2024. Yormark, who secured a six-year, $2.3 billion extension of the league's media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports through 2031, has also overseen initiatives that include plans for a Big 12-wide Pro Day in 2024 and a partnership with New York City's Rucker Park featuring clinics led by coaches from both men's and women's Big 12 basketball programs.

A nationwide footprint in expansion also remains on Yormark's radar. The Big 12 is already welcoming four new members -- BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF -- in time for the upcoming school year.

"As I've said all along, we have an appetite to be a national conference in our makeup from coast to coast," Yormark told reporters last week following the Big 12's spring business meetings. "We love our current composition, love the four new schools who are coming in next month. However, if the opportunity presented itself to create value, we would pursue it."