Very little official business took place on Monday, but that’s all it took.
The Texas Longhorns are staying, the Pac-10 is moving on without them, and the Big 12 has been saved.
“University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together,” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement Monday. “We are excited about the future of the Pac-10 Conference and we will continue to evaluate future expansion opportunities under the guidelines previously set forth by our presidents and chancellors.”
Reached via telephone Monday night, a spokesperson for the Pac-10 said Scott would have no further comment on the matter at this time.
In addition to Texas, the Pac-10 had extended invitations to Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and already poached Colorado. Other than CU, the other five declined those invitations.
The announcements, both from Texas and the West Coast, as well as the Big 12’s confirmation on its official website late Monday, end one of the wildest rides ever witnessed by college athletics. The impact spanned eight conferences, nearly 100 universities and the better part of the last two weeks.
In the end, the Big 12 loses Colorado (to the Pac-10) and Nebraska (to the Big Ten) — both members of the former Big Eight — and somehow gets stronger. That, according to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, whose eleventh-hour efforts with regard to the conference’s television contracts provided a strong-enough case to convince Texas, Oklahoma and the rest of the league to stay intact as a 10-member league.
“Because of our institutions, which have value, we’re in a better place with these 10,” Beebe said recently. “We’re fortunate with the fans we have, with the time zone we occupy, and it all adds up to be a better situation.”
Not all 10 schools released statements or commented on the matter Monday. But the big boys were happy to do so. First, Texas released a blurb on its website announcing that it “will continue competing in the Big 12” and that UT officials had scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. today. Oklahoma followed with a joint statement from President David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione.
“The decision to stay in the Big 12 represents a consensus position which resulted from a collaborative effort with our colleagues in the conference,” the release said. “We value the strong working relationship that has been reaffirmed during this process among the conference members. We intend to work very hard to make the conference as lasting and dynamic as possible. We appreciate the respect and interest that has been shown to OU during this process.”
A&M also confirmed on its website its decision to stay in the Big 12 in a long message from its office of the president, R. Bowen Loftin.
Sources first told the Journal-World late Sunday night that the Big 12 would stay together and proceed as a 10-member conference. Should the league decide to return to 12 teams in the future, it then could be broken into divisions, with Oklahoma moving to the North to split up UT and OU, allowing the two powers a chance to meet in the league’s conference title game each year.
NCAA rules stipulate that a conference must have at least 12 teams to have a championship game, but that rule never has been challenged. Therefore, should the new-look Big 12 decide to explore that option, it might lead to a title game in a 10-member league.
Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director for external affairs, said Monday that KU would not have any comment on the matter until today.
“We’re going to wait until (Tuesday),” Marchiony said. “The schools are having a press conference, the Big 12’s having a press conference, so we’re going to wait until that’s all completed.”
As far as to why the league was saved ... the Dallas Morning News reports “a key factor was a long-term TV deal initiated by Beebe and unveiled Sunday. With help from current league partners Fox Sports Net and ABC/ESPN, the deal will enable some schools to double their revenue.”
Texas, the paper said, would be allowed to start its own TV network. With the network, Texas, the Morning News indicated, could make upwards of $25 million annually in conference revenue. Big 12 schools each make between $12 million and $7 million in revenue now. Schools such as Oklahoma and A&M, which has battled debt problems in its athletic department, could earn about $20 million. Other schools in the conference will make less under the plan, but more than they are currently making, perhaps up to $17 million. Last year, schools divided between $7-10 million each depending on how many appearances they made on regional and national TV.
Notes: Sources say Big 12 basketball teams will play everybody twice, meaning an 18-game schedule. ... ESPN’s Andy Katz said a group of business executives, conference commissioners, ADs, network executives and administrators at many levels throughout the NCAA membership were influential in helping the Big 12 remain intact. They spoke to individual schools in the league asking them not to make any hasty decisions about leaving for what they deemed an aggressive Pac-10.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report