KU men’s and women’s basketball to play Houston in Mexico City during 2024-25 season

photo by: Journal-World file photo

Kansas coach Brandon Schneider is jubilant after winning the 2023 WNIT Championship. Kansas wins with a 66-59 victory over Columbia on Saturday, April 1, 2023.

Already no stranger to playing in far-flung locales, the Kansas men’s and women’s basketball teams will participate in an international doubleheader much closer to home next year.

The Big 12 Conference and Kansas Athletics announced Thursday morning that both KU teams will play against Houston at Arena CDMX in Mexico City in December 2024 part of an initiative known as Big 12 Mexico, which Commissioner Brett Yormark called “a natural extension to the Big 12 footprint” in a news release.

“For us at the conference,” Yormark said on a Zoom call with reporters Thursday afternoon, “it was critically important to have two of our biggest and most profound basketball brands kind of breaking into the marketplace.”

This endeavor will also include a bowl game following the 2026 football season, with opponents yet to be determined, and a series of women’s soccer and baseball exhibitions against Mexican competition.

The neutral-site basketball contests next year will give the Jayhawks a chance to take on one of the league’s newest schools in front of a fresh group of potential fans. Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said on the Zoom call that any Big 12 institution could stand to benefit from exposure in Mexico.

“We think there’s a student recruitment opportunity,” he said. “We think in particular the sport of basketball resonates at a really high level. There are millions upon millions of basketball fans in that country and in Mexico City proper.”

Yormark thanked Goff for getting Kansas involved with the initiative.

“Behind Commissioner Yormark, the Big 12 is doing a lot to expand the conference brand, and one way they are doing this is by playing a game in Mexico City,” KU men’s coach Bill Self added in the school’s press release. “Kelvin (Sampson) has built Houston back to a national power and this should be a great matchup. We’re excited to play a game in Mexico City and represent the Big 12.”

The Kansas men are 5-2 all time against Houston, but the two schools haven’t played since a 2001 win for the Jayhawks at the Maui Invitational; however, they figure to meet again during the 2023-24 season as part of a conference schedule, as the Cougars officially join the Big 12 on July 1. The Kansas women have never lost to Houston, with a 6-0 all-time record and the Jayhawks winning back-to-back matchups in Lawrence and Houston in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Yormark confirmed that the matchup, despite being “obviously a conference game,” will not count toward conference records for the season. He said that the new Big 12 scheduling formula, in which every team does not necessarily play every other twice, will include opportunities for “second games” like a Mexico City matchup.

“We look forward to the challenge of competing against Houston and playing the game in Mexico City,” KU women’s coach Brandon Schneider said in the release. “This will provide great exposure for our program and our conference.”


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