IRVING, TEXAS — The Big 12 Conference basketball tournament is likely to stay in Kansas City when the new league starts play in 1996, but the new commissioner says the site for the headquarters will be up for bids.
``We'll see which best financial bid we get, the best place to be,'' Steve Hatchell said. ``It's a business decision.''
Hatchell's experience as Southwest Conference commissioner and his strong marketing skills enabled him to edge Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick on Sunday to become the first commissioner of the new Big 12 Conference.
The Associated Press learned the first ballot was 7-5 in Hatchell's favor. The presidents later voted again to make it unanimous.
``It was a very close ballot and we said going in we would make it unanimous with the one getting the most votes,'' said Oklahoma president David Boren. ``I think we got a man with the right blend of experience, energy and excellent marketing skills. We couldn't make a mistake either way we went, but Hatchell should be a major force in leading us nationally.''
Hatchell, 48, was sports information director at Colorado and later was director of the Big Eight Conference's service bureau and associate and interim commissioner.
``I grew up in the Big Eight and they are family,'' Hatchell said. ``And I added to my growth with my work in the Southwest Conference. I love 'em all. I guess you could say I owe everything to all 12 institutions.
Hatchell will vacate his SWC post in July.
As far as playing the postseason basketball tournament in Kansas City, which is the current site of the Big Eight tournament, Hatchell said, ``I know a good thing when I see it. I'd have to be crazy to think about adjustments. I ran that tournament for five years along with (Texas athletic director) DeLoss Dodds and I know how successful it is.''
Hatchell also said splitting the new league into north-south divisions for football wasn't in his immediate plans.
``Why get into a north-south split when you don't have to?'' he asked. ``You can make some money, but ask Alabama how it felt to lose that Southeastern Conference playoff game.''
Martin Jischke, president of Iowa State and chairman of the Big 12 chief executive officers, said Hatchell would be given a five-year contract with terms to be worked out.
The schools of the Big Eight plus Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor of the Southwest Conference will create the Big 12. The Big 12 will begin business operations July 1, 1996.