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Big 12 vows to go on with or without A&M

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe speaks during a radio interview at the NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Dallas.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe speaks during a radio interview at the NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Dallas.

August 14, 2011

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A day that began with rumors of Missouri joining Texas A&M in bolting the Big 12 Conference for the SEC ended with one message: The Big 12 wants to stay together, preferably with A&M on board.

In a statement released Saturday night, the Big 12 said it “strongly conveyed to Texas A&M its unanimous desire that it remain a Big 12 member, and acknowledged its value to the Conference.” In addition, the statement said the league “is prepared to aggressively move forward to explore expansion opportunities” and “recognizes the strength of the Big 12 Conference national brand and the opportunity to capitalize on it.”

Later Saturday night, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little released her own statement, which came after a conference call of Big 12 presidents and chancellors that followed a similar call between the Big 12’s athletic directors and commissioner Dan Beebe.

“The University of Kansas is committed to the Big 12 Conference and its success,” Gray-Little’s statement read. “We fully support the efforts of the conference to remain strong and competitive, including the active pursuit of additional membership in the event of a departure.”

Not surprisingly, Gray-Little’s words echoed those uttered by KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger on Friday.

“Sheahon Zenger and I have been in regular contact with conference board members, the commissioner and others to ensure KU’s interests are protected,” Gray-Little continued. “We are going to do what is in the best interest of the university (and) our student-athletes and fans. Maintaining a vibrant Big 12 is in KU’s best interests.”

KU’s two most visible leaders have worked closely together on this matter during the past few days.

As for the specifics of Saturday’s activity, sources with knowledge of the conference call between the ADs and Beebe told the Journal-World that the tone of the call was pleasant and more about solving the problem together than picking each other apart.

“I think nine (member schools) is an option,” UT AD DeLoss Dodds told Kirk Bohls of the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman. “I think nine are solid. I think 10’s a good number. In my mind, we’d try to stay at 10. If we had to, we’d go to 12.”

Sources said it was believed by all parties involved that the Big 12 would survive as long as everyone was up front and honest.

Because of its recent track record of wanting to leave the conference, one school that has to be looked at twice is Missouri. Despite rumors of Mizzou being bound for the SEC, several media outlets reported that the Tigers seemed committed to the Big 12. Asked by reporters if MU had entered into talks with the SEC, Missouri AD Mike Alden said: “No. The answer to your question is no. I want to make sure: no.”

With the Big 12 in turmoil yet again, administrators at other schools, such as BYU, Louisville and others, were called upon to answer whether they would be interested in joining the Big 12 should the opportunity present itself. Each gave the same answer: We’re happy with where we are.

With a meeting of Texas A&M’s board of regents looming Monday, and Texas lawmakers set to meet Tuesday, one source said the whole thing boils down to one simple truth. “If it’s A&M’s decision, they’d be gone. But nothing’s a done deal.”

One of the biggest reasons why is the presence of the Texas legislature, which has a strong interest in keeping Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech together.

Although some reports have indicated that Monday’s meeting of A&M’s board of regents could include a vote to accept an invitation from the SEC, no actual offer has been confirmed, and one Texas lawmaker said any such action would be frowned upon.

“It’s my understanding, based upon conversations with A&M officials, that the A&M Board of Regents is meeting to authorize the president to enter into negotiations with the SEC, assuming the SEC extends an offer to A&M to join the conference,” Rep. Dan Branch said. “It is not my understanding that they are meeting to complete or accept an offer to the SEC. To finalize such an action before giving legislators a chance to ask some questions would be inappropriate, highly inappropriate.”

Comments

tecuani 3 years, 4 months ago

Time to think about leaving this sinking ship. The Big East beckons. They took TCU, they would sure as hell take KU.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 4 months ago

I doubt the state legislature would allow us to move, leaving K-State to fend for itself. We're tied to them and they're tied to us. Not that I blame K-State. The blame lies squarely with Nebraska and Colorado for leaving last year. And it lies with Missouri for it's persistent flirtation with the Big-10. And the fault lies with Texas for demanding an unequal distribution of revenue. And it lies with A. & M. for it's flirtation with the SEC. But to your point, yes, we need to jump this sinking ship and get the best deal we can in whatever power conference will have us.

holbigmac 3 years, 4 months ago

Once again KU pays a severe price for not playing or wanting to play competitive football. I love KU B-Ball and Bill Self, but we're going to be the poor cousin hoping some lesser conference like the Big East will take us! If it was a B-Ball thing, we'd be dictating the terms but since football reigns, we lose! What league is Washburn in? Would they take us!?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

Shouldn't the conference name actually reflect the number of member schools?

hawksfanatic 3 years, 4 months ago

Will someone please tell me why the Big 12 is going through this and no other conference is? Is it all because of Texas and OU?

readit 3 years, 4 months ago

TA&M tired of losing to that school in Austin...

LeBo 3 years, 4 months ago

Great move for the State of Texas. Now TEXAS, A&M, and TCU can have a BCS tri-presence. Let them leave, Let's get Illinois State, Missouri State, New Mexico, Colorado State.

Don Whiteley 3 years, 4 months ago

And the rest of the Big 12, soon to be the Big 6 again, can go right on smooching Texas' backside.

Daniel Kennamore 3 years, 4 months ago

This is ridiculous. I understand loyalty is important, but at some point you need to face reality and admit this is a sinking ship. Schools like Oklahoma and Texas will be fine no matter what happens, but Kansas seriously needs to start workings towards a more secure situation. If we keep this 'it's falling apart but we are still committed' as the number of schools gets smaller and smaller or replaces with less and less valuable teams, five years from now we could end up the only 'top school' in a conference with Iowa State, Kansas State, and 10 other former mid-majors.

Sparko 3 years, 4 months ago

The travel costs are astronomical for the Big East and PAC-12. Americans are used to relatively inexpensive flying costs; those days are over. Further, there are few natural rivalries there and really pretty dismal fan support. Bringing more schools, hopefully local schools, is the best solution of all.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 4 months ago

Texas destroyed the Southwest Conference in the 1990s, and now is doing the same to the Big teXasII.

No school with any sports excellence or pride can stomach the autocratic, selfish, and dictatorial behavior of Texas athletics.

Just ask Nebraska. KU should take note and should be lining up potential relationships with the Big East, Mountain West, or even the Big 10.

eastcoasthawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Much ado about nothing. SEC did not invite them. All this BS about A&M leaving when there is no party to go to tonight in the SEC for them. What a waste.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 4 months ago

Now that the SEC did not extend an invite, and the feeling I have that these guys would stab their mothers in the back for an extra dollar bill, I'm wondering if the SEC is holding out for both A. & M. and the longhorns to come in as a package. And if Texas is then wanting to get even more from the Big-12 to stay.
I like the line-up with BYU and maybe two out of (Air Force, Houston, TCU, Co. State, Tulsa, Arkansas) and then kick A. & M. out. Jerks.

Gregory Newman 3 years, 4 months ago

Of course Football is the money Dog but when you neuter the tail (other sports) what do you have? You better look at Norte Dame because it ain't been pretty. It's about marketing.

Kick A&M out and then let them fend for themselves. They are a wannabe program they just inherited a great coach from the SEC in track. A&M has no illustrious history in their total sports programs. Plus if they leave they will take a cut in pay because they will delute the SEC.

Kansas nor KSU has a great history in football and we need to quit pretending like we do. You want to stayed tied to the hip? Well go as a package to a basketball conference. Trust me ABC/ESPN would accommodate that. It's all about marketing folks who can sale their PROGRAM.

Ask yourselves what has Texas done? I live in California and college sports is not a great sale on the westcoast. There are 6 NBA teams because technically the Suns and Jazz from a marketing stand point are westcoast and 5 NFL teams. College sports is a short glance at the screen inside the mall then move on with your day or evening when the real games begin. PRO SPORTS.

I grew up in Lawrence and I still root for the Hawks and the wildcats if they are not playing the hawks. Suck-it-up-folks!!!! Football in Kansas has been historically mid-major play and you all know it so GULP!!!!

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