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Archive for Friday, September 9, 2011

Big 12 realignment chaos quiets down for a change

September 9, 2011

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Relative to Wednesday’s mass chaos, Thursday was a calm day in the world of conference realignment.

That’s not to say things weren’t happening.

As the Big 12 Conference strives to stay alive for the second year in a row, and the rest of the country awaits the outcome with nationwide conference restructuring potentially hanging in the balance, university officials throughout the league used Thursday as an opportunity to sit back and re-evaluate their position.

That’s thanks in large part to Baylor’s efforts on Wednesday to stall, if not derail, Texas A&M’s move to the SEC, which seemed to be a slam dunk as recently as Tuesday night when the SEC voted unanimously to welcome the Aggies.

Not content simply to let the conference dissolve, Baylor, which one source said acted alone in starting the push to slow the Aggies’ departure, stood up for itself and threatened legal action, causing the Aggies to tap the brakes. By the end of the day Wednesday, several other schools, including Kansas University, had jumped in line behind Baylor.

“What that showed is that the have-nots have some power,” one university official said Thursday. “And what that did is gave everyone a chance to breathe.”

What began earlier this week as a power play involving the league’s giants — Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma — quickly shifted into a scenario in which the so-called little guys were calling the shots. At least momentarily.

Sources indicated Thursday that Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri all had become instrumental in backing Baylor and fighting to keep the Big 12 intact.

One Big 12 source said what went down Wednesday humbled some of the Big 12’s power brokers and sent a clear message to the entire league that jumping ship would not be easy or tolerated. However, it may still happen.

Thursday evening, reports surfaced that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, both rumored to be hot-to-trot to join the Pac-12, had waived their right to sue the SEC or A&M regarding the Aggies’ efforts to leave the Big 12. The SEC has said all along that it would not take the Aggies if the threat of legal action loomed.

Whether Thursday’s move was made as a precursor to the Oklahoma schools reaching out for harmony in the Big 12 or to pave the way to the Pac-12 is up for debate. One indicator may have come during Oklahoma State’s matchup with Arizona Thursday night on ESPN, when notable OSU alum T. Boone Pickens told the broadcast team that he hoped the Big 12 survived but added that, if it did, equal revenue sharing had to be part of the equation.

So now all eyes shift to Oklahoma again, which is one week into its self-proclaimed exploration of other opportunities.

Friday, OU president David Boren said the Sooners would decide whether to stay or go in the next three weeks. Reports Wednesday indicated OU was a university divided on the issue.

As the days go by, the pressure for Oklahoma to remain with its Big 12 brothers seems to be mounting. And this time it’s coming from more than just Texas.

Comments

Jayhawk1963 3 years, 3 months ago

I still do not understand the legal basis for Baylor's threatened lawsuit. There is already an exit mechanism in place if a school wants to depart; the penalty for "breaking the contract" is they forfeit a LOT of money. This seems like a desperation measure and can hardly be counted on to hold together an organization with so many internal disagreements.

lvlndhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Legal basis? How 'bout breach of contract. I'm not a lawyer but based on principle, (what a concept) I'm glad some schools are taking a stand.This conference, in one form or another,has been around since 1907. The four Texas schools accepted an upgrade from the SWC in 1994. Now A&M is threatening to take the conference down. How about some loyalty? Also consider what this does to your students and fans.

Daniel Kennamore 3 years, 3 months ago

A&M signed off on a new billion dollar contract with Fox that starts in fall of 2012. Part of any contract in the Big 12 requires consent of all members, and the Fox contract got unanimous consent.

If the Big 12 stays together, neither the Big 12 nor the individual schools would have much or any case against Texas A&M & SEC. They would pay their contractually obligated exit fees as outlined in the letter sent to them last week.

What the SEC asked for goes beyond that. They made part of A&M's acceptance contingent on each individual school waiving all legal rights to sue either A&M or the SEC regardless of whether the Big 12 collapses. That is an unprecedented request, and the schools that have a vested interest in keeping the Big 12 together would be fools to give up their rights.

The contract, if upheld, would give each school 20+ million dollars a year for the next decade. If the Big 12 dissolved, schools that entered into a contract with A&M would have to move to a new conference and make new deals for a fraction of that income. The key here is the collapse of the Big 12 or voiding of the Fox contract (either of which is the likely outcome of OU, Texas, & Texas A&M leaving) could lead to A&M, or any school that left, to be found liable for the lost revenue.

As for the SEC (or any other conference's liability) that would be a lot shaker, imo.

I think the schools not waiving their rights is extremely appropriate, and the SEC obviously thinks such a case would have some firm standing or they wouldn't have made waiving of legal rights a condition of A&M's acceptance.

Jayhawk1963 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the legal clarification. Your reply makes more sense than IvIndhawk's. The question now becomes: Does TAM leaving collapse the Big 12 ? I doubt it but there's no question the exit of OU or UT would.

rtwngr 3 years, 3 months ago

Thank goodness Baylor had the b*lls to stand up and say something! I am a little put out that Zenger and Gray-Little waited until Baylor stood up to A&M before they chimed in.

Jeff Kilgore 3 years, 3 months ago

Their b*lls were probably nothing less than backs to the wall desparation. They have nothing but the XII to hope for. KU/MU/KSU have some hope of another major conference.

Jeff Kilgore 3 years, 3 months ago

Their b*lls were probably nothing less than backs to the wall desparation. They have nothing but the XII to hope for. KU/MU/KSU have some hope of another major conference.

blindrabbit 3 years, 3 months ago

Don't know about Baylor's legal "chance of success" but I can guarantee the their Prez., Kenneth Starr can be as dogged as anyone. His history in "digging the dirt" as the prosecutor in the Bill Clinton impeachment case was a example of a "angry dog with a bone"; wasting 65 million in taxpayers money while trying to quell his repressed sexual inadequacies..

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