Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews
Dan Beebe discusses the future of the Big 12 Conference
Big 12 Conference Commissioner Dan Beebe met the media at the conclusion of the conference's meetings in Kansas City. He was upbeat about the future of the Big 12.
Kansas City, Mo. When taking this week’s Big 12 spring meetings on a day-by-day basis, one might have been able to conclude that a lot was getting done on the ballroom level of the InterContinental Hotel on the Plaza.
The reality of it all couldn’t be farther from that view.
Although the annual meetings seemed to unfold like a Broadway play, complete with resounding overture, colorful characters and an action-packed plot, the final scene lacked any kind of climax. In fact, when Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe spoke to reporters late Friday morning, the only thing that was clear was that very little had changed since the beginning of the week.
“We had very productive meetings with a lot of candid discussion, and I’m very encouraged by the process that we’ve set forth to ensure the solidification of this conference,” said Beebe, echoing similar statements from Tuesday’s opening day.
The problem with what Beebe said Friday wasn’t the content but the limitations. Although he emphasized the existence of a plan that would lead to the survival of the Big 12, he stopped short of explaining what that plan included, leading many in the room to question the plan’s strength.
“The process that’s been set is firm,” Beebe said. “But I’m not going to engage in what that is. That’s just where it’s going to sit.”
With that in mind, the Big 12 moves forward with what outsiders perceive as no known path and no visible destination. Throughout the week, Beebe and many university officials expressed a strong desire to keep the conference together. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione was one of the most vocal supporters of saving the Big 12, as was Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins, who attended Tuesday’s session but missed Wednesday and Thursday because of a prior commitment.
Their goal was to focus on the conference they’re in rather than worry about what else might be out there.
“It doesn’t do any good to speculate on any of these rumors,” said Perkins, who kept in close touch with the meetings throughout the week. “We’re proud members of the Big 12 and we appreciate what the Big 12 does for us and look forward to working with all these schools going forward.
“You’re much better off working together quietly as a group and trying to move forward that way than you are making a public reaction every time somebody comes out with another rumor.”
One bit of speculation Perkins did address Friday afternoon involved KU’s connection to Kansas State.
“This is something that K-State and we have spent considerable time working on,” Perkins said. “And I know we both look forward to being together for a long time.”
Whether that’s in the Big 12 or elsewhere remains to be seen.
Though no one at the meetings said definitively that the Big 12 would survive, the reasons given for why it should sounded viable. For starters, reworked television deals are on the way, with the first round of negotiations coming in April and the next round scheduled for 2015. As Beebe put it, “there is significant discussion about our future television situation, and we are very encouraged that we can be in a long-term arrangement very soon that would put us on the same level as any conference in the country.”
Of course, the future is not now, and if the Pac-10 or the Big Ten were to come to the plate with attractive offers before then, that could render the arrangements Beebe spoke of meaningless.
Beebe remained consistent in his statements that the conference would be willing to consider just about anything should any one of its schools decide to leave. When asked if he had a contingency plan in place that would cover such an occurrence, Beebe was direct. “Absolutely,” he said. What that plan is, however, remains a secret.
In the event that a school did elect to leave the Big 12 to join a different conference, Beebe revealed that the institution would lose 50 percent of its revenue, provided it gave at least two years notice of its departure. If the time frame for departure were less than two years, the penalty could grow to as much as 90 percent.
Speaking of time frames, on Tuesday Beebe emphasized the importance of knowing which schools were on board and which ones weren’t before he entered into television negotiations in April. He said he’d like to have commitments from all 12 schools as soon as today but admitted that might not be realistic. Friday, the deadline mystery continued when Beebe pointed out that he knew of a date but would not share it.
As for the week’s rumors that put a charge into nearly everyone involved with the Big 12 meetings, Beebe left Kansas City confident that no one in the Big 12 was awaiting an offer from either the Pac-10 or the Big Ten.
“No, I don’t think that’s the issue,” he said. “I don’t blame those other conferences for looking at our institutions. They’re valuable institutions with a lot of great history and tradition and could add a lot. But I think we have a compelling case for why the Big 12 should stay together.”
In other news Friday, Beebe announced that the conference had awarded the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to Kansas City for the next few years.
The men’s tournament is locked in through 2014 and the women’s tourney through 2013. The conference’s championship football game also will remain at Cowboys Stadium, outside of Dallas, through 2013.