Allstate XII? Big 12 reportedly in talks to sell conference naming rights

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SALT LAKE CITY — Private equity may be coming to college football, and Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has a unique vision of how to increase his conference's sponsorship valuation.

The conference is currently in discussions with Allstate to sell the league's naming rights to the insurance giants, the Action Network's Brett McMurphy reported Thursday.

The deal, which would include naming possibilities including "Big Allstate Conference" and "Allstate 12 Conference," would be a multi-year deal worth between $30-50 million annually, according to the report.

It's not the first time college sports — and college football, in particular — have sold naming rights to corporate sponsors that would put the company name in front of millions of consumers. The move would be similar to what college football bowl games do all the time, outsourcing bowl names to the highest bidder.

The ReliaQuest Bowl was once the Outback Bowl, and the internet-viral Pop-Tarts Bowl has been played under the Blockbuster, Mazda, Champs Sports and Russell Athletic banners, to name a few. One of the newer bowl games played in Tucson, Arizona, will soon go from Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl to the Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl presented by Gin & Juice by Dre and Snoop.

The LA Bowl was famously bought out by celebrity late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, though that sponsorship has now been replaced by Rob Gronkowski.

Yormark's plan is simply another step in a direction that has already been breached, and may eventually lead to private equity (or a modified version of the term, dubbed "private capital") entering the sport.

In a meeting with league administrators two weeks ago in Dallas, Yormark introduced a concept to sell the conference's naming rights to the highest bidding corporate sponsor, according to Yahoo! Sports' Ross Dellenger.

Most conversations around the move centered around retaining the "12" portion of the conference, which will expand to 16 teams this summer with the inclusions of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, according to Yahoo.

As reports circulated about the move, it came with a caveat: No deal is imminent and would be subject to the approval of Big 12 presidents and chancellors.

But Yormark, a former New York entertainment and talent executive who spent three years as COO and Co-CEO of Jay-Z's Roc Nation, has publicly stated often that one of his main charges as commissioner is to find additional revenue streams for league members — especially as the Big 12 (and its $31.7 million per schedule media valuation) is expected to be around $40 million behind the Big Ten and SEC in the next round of media rights payouts under its recently completed deal with ESPN and FOX.

The commissioner has already begun growing the league's brands through efforts, including Big 12 Mexico, which would play annual football, basketball, baseball and women's soccer games south of the border, and other initiatives. He famously stated when he took the job back in 2022 that the Big 12 was "open for business," and didn't back down from that claim last summer.

"I take it as a personal goal to make sure that I can best resource our schools for this next chapter," Yormark said during a news conference with reporters May 31, per Yahoo.

To that end, the conference has been "open" to engaging with private equity for financial backing of the league.

Other leagues could follow suit, as well. Later Thursdsay, Dellenger reported that Conference USA had engaged with financial services company Globe Life on a potential multi-million dollar sponsorship, namely Globe Life Conference USA or Globe Life Conference.

CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reported Thursday that the league was debating a "possible cash infusion" between $800 million and $1 billion from Luxembourg-based CVC Capital Partners in exchange for a 15-20% stake in the conference.

The global private equity giant that manages over $200 billion in worldwide investments would provide the Big 12 with additional investment services and clients, according to CBS.

Of course, dealing with private equity requires investment from the receiving end, as well. A deal with CVC would likely require a long-term commitment from the conference, according to CBS, which could include an extension of the league's grant of rights past their current 2031 expiration.

These talks all come as all Division I schools continue to negotiate an agreed-upon settlement of the House v. NCAA legal case that would implement revenue sharing with college athletes of up to $22 million annually.

As part of the settlement, schools could also add scholarships and fully fund any sport, including partial-scholarship sports like baseball, softball and others.

Such an expense could add an estimated investment of more than $300 million annually to power conference schools.


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