Archive for Friday, August 12, 2011

KU AD Sheahon Zenger working hard to protect Jayhawks’ conference interests

Sheahon Zenger was introduced as KU's new athletic director on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, during a press conference at Hadl Auditorium.

Sheahon Zenger was introduced as KU's new athletic director on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, during a press conference at Hadl Auditorium.

August 12, 2011


Kansas University’s future in the Big 12 Conference — or any other conference, for that matter — may be a little more in doubt today than it was a few weeks ago, but it’s not because of a lack of focus from the school’s athletic director.

Sheahon Zenger, still in his first year on the job, told the Journal-World Friday afternoon that he had been charging his phone every couple of hours during the past few days to make sure that it was able to handle the volume of calls he has made and received regarding Texas A&M;’s desire to leave the Big 12 and how that might impact KU.

“The Kansas faithful can rest assured that we have been in constant contact and remain in constant contact with the conference office and the other athletic directors within this league,” Zenger said. “We have been given assurances by the other schools and the conference office that the other nine of us remain steadfastly committed to this league.”

The same obviously cannot be said for A&M.; Last summer, the Aggies were involved in serious and public flirtations with the SEC. But a proposal put together by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and the rest of the Big 12’s institutions enticed A&M; to stay put. For a while, anyway.

Now, after a couple of weeks of grumbling, similar reports regarding the Aggies to the SEC have surfaced, and a move to the SEC seems to be more likely than ever.

Thursday night, the site reported that the Aggies had agreed and accepted an invitation to join the SEC. A couple of hours after that report surfaced, The Sporting News released a story that quoted a high-ranking SEC official as saying that simply was not true.

Regardless of what’s true and what’s not, Zenger said the Big 12 remains committed to keeping A&M; in the fold, if possible, and, above all, remains committed to preserving the conference. Whether that means the Big 12 would move forward with nine teams, add a team to stay at 10 or add three teams to jump back to 12 remains to be seen and won’t be worked out until A&M;’s move becomes official.

“I have great respect for Texas A&M; and what they bring to the table,” Zenger said. “They’re welcome to be a member of our league, I just hope, should they stay, that they find a way to be happy.”

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, “it looks to me like they’re leaving.” Bohls also reported that Dodds said the Big 12 could survive with nine teams, but that the UT staff was working on a list of names for possible replacements should the league elect to go that direction.

In addition to Texas, Oklahoma’s happiness represents a huge piece of the puzzle for the Big 12’s survival.

While the latest rumors of A&M;’s departure have made the biggest splash in the athletic world, the move, should it happen, appears to be driven by Texas A&M;’s board of regents and president.

Sources said that a final decision likely won’t be made until the issue makes its way through the Texas legislature, which has strong desire to keep Texas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech tied together. However, that was before A&M;’s regents moved their previously scheduled Aug. 22 meeting up to Monday, one day before the legislature is scheduled to meet on the issue of “matters pertaining to higher education, including collegiate athletics.”

One report Thursday said the SEC had offered A&M; a spot and that the regents could vote to accept the invitation at their upcoming meeting.


mikewils 6 years, 6 months ago

Zenger needs to be proactive and find another home for KU. This conference won't exist in another year or two.

mikerizk 6 years, 6 months ago

RIGHT ON!!! Preferably a basketball conference...even offer ourself to the PAC 12 or even the ACC.

ajeineiz 6 years, 6 months ago

Why would KU want to be in a conference like the Big 12 where the UNEQUAL distribution of monies insures that KU would always be at a competitive disadvantage?

Dr. Zenger should focus on improving its performance in all sports to insure that we are attractive to anther more stable conference. We have to do better than being the tail member of the Big 12.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

It is unfortunate that football is the tail wagging this dog. And clearly, K.U. is a basketball school. If the powers that be would allow a K.U./K.S.U. divorce, then K.U. could pursue inclusion in a conference that emphasizes basketball while K.S.U. could pursue it's interests. But as long as we are tied to the hip to K-State, we will get screwed (not through the fault of K-State. It's Texas wanting a bigger slice of the pie. It's Nebraska and Colorado with it's actions last year. It's Missouri's continued flirtation with the Big 10. And it's A. & M.'s flirtation with the SEC). We need to put our best foot forward and join the likes of Georgetown and St. John's. Or hope an invite to with SEC could happen with a K.U./U.K. yearly matchup enough to get in. But we need to do something because the Big 12 is dying and even if it survives with Texas getting a bigger slice of the pie and maybe inclusion of lower profile schools like Tulsa or Houston, we need to go our own way.

Maracas 6 years, 6 months ago

I saw something recently where DeLoss Dodds is working on a list of 20 names as possible additions to the Bevo Nine conference. Apparently Dodds is in charge of expansion. That would mean a likely return to some semblance of the SWC, by adding the likes of Houston, SMU, etc. Oh joy. This conference is juuuuuuuust fiiiiiiiiine, right?

Joe Hyde 6 years, 6 months ago

The reasoning has probably been detailed earlier in many sports stories (ones I missed), but I don't understand why the Big 12 (now more accurately the Big 10, because that's the number of teams in it) -- why we can't still operate with two divisions: North and South, just like before the Huskers and Buffaloes bolted.

Have five conference teams per division instead of six per division as existed previously.

The various NFL divisions have but four teams each. The various NBA divisions have five teams each. MLB has 5-5-4 division/team numbers in each league respectively.

So what's wrong with staying with a two division approach, separate division champions, a league championship game, etc.? I just don't get it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

The whole point of having two divisions is for there to be an added game at the end, a championship game. That game, with the T.V. money that it generates brings in big, big bucks. And for there to be a championship game at all, there must be 12 teams in the league, according to NCAA rules. That's why the PAC-10 expanded. That's why the Big-10 (+1) added Nebraska. And that's why the Big-12 (-2) can't. The question now is can we bring in two teams that bring enough to the table to justify their inclusion in our league. Geographically, it looks difficult. And if A. & M. should bolt, could we find three teams? It just seems the Big-12 is dying a slow death and K.U. needs to get ahead of the curve on this one. Or we might have nowhere to go but the Missouri Valley or some such conference. In time, K.U. would lose it's place among the basketball elite with Texas and others being able to pump far greater dollars into their program than we could.

mikerizk 6 years, 6 months ago

KU cannot sit idle anymore waiting for other schools (eg. selfish Texas and A&M) dictate our future. Enough is enough as last year was a lesson learned. If we wait again, other teams will fill the void in the Big conferences. Missouri (Alden) is LYING because he is making his move NOW and does not want anyone to jump in the fold until MU is in. KU should offer their Basketball heritage (unfortunately football is the wagging tail) and divorce KSU, now. It is easier for a conference to take one Kansas school, instead of two. No MVC or WAC, please...we would never land another big recruit and HCBS would be gone! Think of a basketball conference to join, even the ACC for that matter now that they are losing Florida St. and Clemson. Don't think distance and geography anymore, TCU joined the Big East, right?

happyrock 6 years, 6 months ago

Sadly, this is when we needed Lew. Realizing that he is not around, one option might simply be to go on as an independent.
I realize that sounds a bit crazy, but think about it. We could schedule a softer football schedule and make it to a secondary bowl every year or two. We would suffer nothing by not being in a conference for basketball. Our conference schedule does not prepare us for the tourney anyway. I would rather have us play a more competitive schedule, lose 8 games and go far in the tournament instead of winning a meaningless conference and lose to some second rate team.

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