University of Arizona President Roberts discusses move to Big 12

The dominoes began to fall quickly when it came to Arizona opting to jump to the Big 12 Conference beginning in 2024. 

Arizona, alongside Arizona State and Utah, announced Friday that it will join the Big 12, moving away from the Pac-12 and becoming the latest programs involved in conference expansion. 

Arizona university president Robert Robbins said he believes “the keys were” the $23 million per-school payout in the Pac-12’s proposed media deal and the fact that no game would be broadcast through linear access. 

“I think those were the two things that were problematic for people when they were evaluating the long-term sustainability of the contract, and of course that it was subscription-based,” Robbins said. 

Pac-12 presidents met Friday to discuss and potentially sign a Grant of Rights and agree to a new media rights contract, ultimately falling short of reaching their goal. 

Robbins said he thought “we were all expecting Friday morning to show up together and sign in blood our Grant of Rights over to the Pac-12 Conference” before the presidents meeting. 

“I got called by one of the presidents that said, ‘Look, we’ve came to an agreement with the Big Ten 10 minutes ago and I just wanted to give you a heads up before we get together as presidents and chancellors that we’ll be taking our talents to the Big Ten,’” Robbins said. 

Oregon and Washington announced plans to join the Big Ten starting in 2024. The move opened the door and paved the way to further expansion moves and exploration. 

Robbins said he spoke with Arizona State university president Michael Crow and Utah university president Taylor Randall about the possible move to the Big 12, and Robbins said the group thought “this was the best direction for us to move forward.” 

“We thought the future was going to be brighter being a member of the Big 12, and all of the opportunities that that affords,” Robbins said. “I think they’ve been very aggressive — I like that. I think they’re thinking about new ways to highlight the conference, and I think our students and coaches and staff will appreciate that approach to college athletics.”