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Big 12 transition already underway at UArizona

Posted at 9:35 AM, Sep 14, 2023

TUCSON, AZ — It's inside the Hall of Champions at McKale Center, and University of Arizona Associate Athletic Director Brent Blaylock is dusting off an old Western Athletic Conference trophy. The WAC will soon have company in the category of former conferences for the University of Arizona.

"New opportunities create new challenges and certainly the Big 12 is going to provide that," said Blaylock.

When UArizona announced it was headed to the Big 12, it needed a new team, otherwise known as a transition team for its switch from the Pac-12.

"A lot of this right now is learning," added Blaylock

Athletic Director Dave Heeke presented Blaylock and Kyrstal Swindelhurst, an assistant vice president in the athletic department, the challenge of being the Big 12 transition co-chairs.

"This may be one of the biggest that we've taken on because this truly affects all stakeholders at Arizona Athletics," said Blaylock. "This impacts our student-athletes, our staff members, our fans, donors, all of that."

Blaylock is developing his own gameplan to comply with Big 12 bylaws.

"Whether that comes to broadcasting our won events, or how games are scheduled, or what days of the week our teams might be playing."

If anyone knows about the Big 12, it's Blaylock, who once worked for the University of Kansas athletic department.

"You go throughout the Big 12, and there are a lot of communities that rally around their school. Because of that, you see a lot of environments where people are loud."

The transition isn't a sprint, but it isn't a marathon, either. Arizona officially joins the Big 12 next summer, so there are timetables.

"Our two most immediate challenges is, one, what's going to be expected from us from the Big 12 once we make that transition. And second, understanding what we know about how this move impacts all of our programs and student-athletes."

The University of Arizona spent 45 years in the Pac-12. Blaylock and Swindlehurst now have less than one year to get the Wildcats ready for the Big 12.

"We now have a lot of places we've never been before, or our coaches have never been."

One day, perhaps in the not too distant future, there will be some Big 12 champion hardware in the Hall of Champions.