Baltimore Sun

Big 12’s new boss learning the ropes


New Big 12 Commission­er Brett Yormark is learning the NCAA’s issues in real time and during a period of sweeping change and uncertaint­y.

While Monday is Yormark’s first day working full-time out of the Big 12 office, leaving behind Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, the ex-CEO of the NBA’s Nets has been steadily involved in conference matters since landing his first job in college athletics. He was named the Big 12’s new leader on June 29. A day later, conference realignmen­t became a pressing issue again when Southern California and UCLA said they would be leaving the Pac-12 in 2024 to join the Big Ten.

Beyond that, Yormark has to get familiar with name, image and likeness compensati­on for athletes, the transfer portal, FBS conference­s potentiall­y splitting from the NCAA with their own governance structure for football, and the future of the College Football Playoff.

“One of his best qualities is he doesn’t pretend to know what he doesn’t know … He asks a lot of questions, and listens,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said of Yormark. “He hasn’t been in the industry, so he’s got to absorb all of that, which is, just under normal circumstan­ces, difficult. But then throw on top of that conference realignmen­t part two.”

When asked during his introducti­on at Big 12 football media days in mid-July if there were active talks with any Pac-12 schools, Yormark said his league was “open for business” and exploring all options for the future — but gave no specific details.

The Big 12 is going through another transition in membership, and its media rights deal with ESPN and Fox Sports expires after the 2024-25 academic year. While Oklahoma and Texas are set to leave for the Southeaste­rn Conference no later than the 2025 season, four new schools will join the Big 12 next summer.

Yormark brings an outside perspectiv­e to what has been a resilient conference, as well as a background in building brands.

Golf: Ayaka Furue of Japan ran off six straight birdies in the middle of her round and rallied from a four-shot deficit with a 10-under 62 to win the Women’s Scottish Open on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title . ... Tony Finau ran away with the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday at Detroit Golf Club to become the first PGA Tour player in three years to win consecutiv­e regular-season events. Finau closed with a 5-under 67 for a five-shot victory and a tournament-record 26-under 262 total. Taylor Pendrith, Patrick Cantlay and rookie of the year front-runner Cameron Young tied for second.

MLB: In the span of four days, Mike Trout went from his career in peril to possibly picking a bat by the end of next week. The Angels star visited Thursday with Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist and codirector of the Marina Spine Clinic in Los Angeles. Trout is slated to begin rotational exercises on Wednesday and could return to swinging a bat shortly after. “It went from my career is over to now hopefully I’m going to play here soon,” Trout said.

Soccer: Lionel Messi opened the scoring and Neymar scored twice as French champion Paris Saint-Germain beat French Cup winner Nantes 4-0 to win the Champions Trophy on Sunday.

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