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Big 12’s future cloudy, with a chance

Sheahon Zenger, right, was introduced as the new athletic director at KU on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. With him is his new boss, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who chose Zenger from "three-to-five finalists" she received from KU's search committee.

Sheahon Zenger, right, was introduced as the new athletic director at KU on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. With him is his new boss, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who chose Zenger from "three-to-five finalists" she received from KU's search committee.

September 8, 2011

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For at least a few hours Wednesday, Baylor University felt what it was like to be king of the conference.

Less than 12 hours after learning that Texas A&M had received enough support from the SEC to leave the Big 12, Baylor spearheaded a strong campaign among the nine remaining Big 12 schools to block the Aggies’ exit. According to reports, only Oklahoma, which has expressed interest in bolting for the Pac-12, was willing to waive its right to take legal action against the SEC for poaching A&M. Initially, it looked as if Baylor would represent the Aggies’ only roadblock to freedom, but, as the day went on, the movement garnered more support. First, Iowa State came out in full support of a lawsuit should A&M leave. A little while later, many were reporting that the rest of the league had followed suit. That included Kansas University, which, through a statement from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s office, stood firmly in Baylor and Iowa State’s corner, though in a more neutral tone.

“We are not planning litigation,” the statement said. “But we have not waived our legal rights in this matter.”

Sources close to Kansas said throughout the day that Gray-Little and athletic director Sheahon Zenger remained steadfast in their belief that the Big 12 was the best place for KU to end up. Still, it’s clear that KU’s leaders are considering all of their options.

When Wednesday began, it seemed as if the Big 12 was closer than ever to becoming extinct. A letter from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to SEC boss Mike Slive, dated Sept. 2, that surfaced early Wednesday, revealed that Beebe, on behalf of the Big 12, had signed off on A&M’s move to the SEC. However, once the rest of the league began its attempt to block the move, another Beebe letter surfaced, this one an email sent to Slive late Tuesday, that essentially said Beebe’s previous letter only spoke for the league and not the individual members. Although that seemed to be splitting hairs, the difference had enough weight to delay A&M’s move and sent Aggies officials into a frenzy.

“We are being held hostage right now,” A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said of being forced to stay in the Big 12. “Essentially, we’re being told that you must stay here against your will, and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans and makes us free people.”

Baylor officials also made claims earlier in the day that they believed the Bears were being held hostage.

An official move by A&M to the SEC, which still may come and could be announced as soon as today, likely would’ve sent the dominoes tumbling and signified the beginning of the end of the Big 12. In the race to keep up with the constantly changing landscape, schools like Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri would have faced decisions that could’ve buried the Big 12. Now, A&M’s future appears to be as unsettled as the Big 12’s, and the 15-year old league is clinging to hope.

As Texas, which seems to have put the controversial Longhorn Network on the back burner for now, continues to fight for the Big 12, all eyes shift to Oklahoma, which, sources say, is divided on whether to move to the Pac-12 or stick with the Big 12.

If the Big 12 survives, it seems that talk would turn quickly to which schools the conference would explore adding in an effort to get back to 10 or even 12 schools. Arkansas AD Jeff Long told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the Big 12 recently contacted the SEC school about expansion but added that the talks did not get very far. One league source said that BYU now stands as the Big 12’s first choice.

Comments

biggunz 2 years, 7 months ago

And something else about you clowns calling for Lew....He was the AD the last time realignment came up and I don't remember other conferences beating down the door for KU then either. There were unconfirmed rumors about interest from the Pac 10 and that's it! Everything else was the same old "The Big 12 is best, we stand behind it, blah, blah, blah!"

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biggunz 2 years, 7 months ago

OMG, some of you are total idiots. So you really believe Zenger is looking out for Kstate's best interest because he came from there? Pull your head out of your *** or do everyone a favor and quit posting. You make KU fans look like morons.

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thebcman 2 years, 7 months ago

Cloudy, with a chance of pain.

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happyrock 2 years, 7 months ago

Where is Lew when we need him? Sheahon is a K-Stater. Does anyone think he is going to look out for our best interests if that means we have to leave K-State behind?

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danmoore 2 years, 7 months ago

Blame Delaney. He is the one who started all this when he went after Nebraska last year. The Big 10 leads all conferences in revenue so it was motivated by greed, not necessity.

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Shane Garrett 2 years, 7 months ago

The Big 12 is not a conferance it is a death pac.

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Armen Kurdian 2 years, 7 months ago

There could be a veritable tornado of schools moving hither and thither if A&M is allowed to go to the SEC. On the one hand, I agree that A&M feels like it's being held hostage and that a potential lawsuit would be anti-free market, so to speak. But at the same time, the chance of the league disintegrating skyrockets with their departure. And to have conferences where schools may have to travel 1,500 miles to play other schools on a regular basis is hard on the students, expensive, and really waters down rivalries.

'Best interests' = money, pure and simple. Where can I get the most $$$? I don't blame the rest of the Big XII schools for using legal action to stop this insanity. The uncertainty following the movement and the schockwaves that follow would be felt for a very long time.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 7 months ago

One thing is clear. If the Big XII survives, Beebe needs to go. His recent vacillating public statements demonstrate his utter inability to exert sound leadership, and is embarrassing to the conference.

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kujayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

“We are being held hostage right now,” A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said of being forced to stay in the Big 12. “Essentially, we’re being told that you must stay here against your will, and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans and makes us free people.”

Oh really? Apparently it's American to make a commitment, sign a contract and then try to bail on your commitment and get out of the contract?

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kujayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

“We are being held hostage right now,” A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said of being forced to stay in the Big 12. “Essentially, we’re being told that you must stay here against your will, and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans and makes us free people.”

Oh really? Apparently it's American to make a commitment, sign a contract and then try to bail on your commitment and get out of the contract?

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 7 months ago

I fail to understand why KU is fighting to save the Big 12 in its current form; save a patsy conference dominated by the Longhorns.

The Longhorns have demonstrated that they are interested in the Big 12 only so long as they can control and dominate it, and take the lion's share.

UT will boll the Big 12 as soon as it is in their financial interest. Why KU and others is fighting to save this conference, and give UT everything it wants, is beyond me.

KU should proactively jettison the Big teIXas, a mopve that is risky in the short term but much smarter in the long term.

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classclown 2 years, 7 months ago

Here's what BYU has to say about it.

"As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference.”

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/52494371-77/byu-announced-conference-issue.html.csp

I still say any attempt to bring in other schools will bring lawsuits with it.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 7 months ago

Really, though, we should just them go and get a few, maybe from the Mountain West, who would be interested in actually being a part of the conference.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 7 months ago

"We think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans and makes us free people.”

lol.

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classclown 2 years, 7 months ago

If the Big 12 survives, it seems that talk would turn quickly to which schools the conference would explore adding in an effort to get back to 10 or even 12 schools. Arkansas AD Jeff Long told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the Big 12 recently contacted the SEC school about expansion but added that the talks did not get very far. One league source said that BYU now stands as the Big 12’s first choice.

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After the can of worms the Big 12 schools just opened? Now, any invitation to a school to join the conference will be inviting lawsuits from the conferences 'being poached'.

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Boston_Corbett 2 years, 7 months ago

Contracts are contracts. Read the fine print Loftin. You have lawyers.

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lvlndhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

So A&M feels they're being held hostage. How 'bout the fact that they're holding 9 other institutions hostage? A&M pres. Bowen Loftin should rephrase his statement to read: That really flies in the face of what makes us backstabbers and jerks!

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ifxstuf 2 years, 7 months ago

Didn't the " beginning of the end of the Big 12" start last summer? Losing two of the twelve schools with others wanting to leave started the whole thing. The only way this conference will survive is if Texas gets over wanting to be in control.

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