Realignment Today: Report pegs KU Chancellor Douglas Girod as part of Big 12’s expansion committee
photo by: Screenshot of Senate Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection hearing on Feb. 11
According to a Thursday report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, it appears that University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod is part of a sub-committee charged with looking into potential Big 12 expansion, as the winds of realignment blow back toward the middle of America.
In the report, Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt reportedly said he, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades and “presidents” from Iowa State and Kansas were on the committee.
Later in the story, Hocutt said the group had been expanded to include all Big 12 presidents.
A KU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Journal-World inquiry about Girod’s spot on the committee.
It also has been reported by several outlets that the Big 12 has turned to former West Virginia AD and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck to serve as a consultant to help the conference work through its realignment options.
The news of the Big 12 moving forward with expansion exploration came just hours after the Pac-12 announced its plan to “stand pat” rather than expand.
“Right now, our complete focus is to make the Big 12 as strong as it can possibly be,” Hocutt told the Avalanche-Journal. “And I expect that Texas Tech will play a leadership role in that. We’re going to continue to be part of the power-five structure in college athletics.”
With the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten entering into an alliance that binds those three power conferences together — at least philosophically and perhaps even as voting partners — and with the SEC doing the powerhouse football thing in the southeast, the eight remaining Big 12 schools have some decisions to make.
From the day Oklahoma and Texas announced their plans to move to the SEC, the talk in the Big 12 has been about the remaining eight staying strong and loyal and seeing what options they might have next.
While it may seem on the surface like their hand has been forced and that expansion and salvaging some kind of TV deal for its future survival is the conference’s only move, that may not be the case for at least the next three to four years.
Remember, as things currently stand, OU and UT are not planning on leaving the Big 12 until the grant of rights agreement expires in 2025. That would give all 10 current Big 12 schools four more years of solid financial footing.
It’s important to remember that simply putting together a committee does not mean that expansion is inevitable. And it’s certainly not imminent. After all, the Pac-12 just proved that in a matter of a few days.
And while Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday that the conference had no plans to expand, it is also important to remember that, in today’s wild times, that plan is more of a “that’s how we feel right now” sort of thing rather than an “it’s etched in stone forever” deal.
Things change. They always have. Things change often in college athletics these days. More so than ever before.
Best to be ready, or at least ready for Round 2 after getting blindsided the first time around.
According to the Avalanche-Journal report, the Big 12’s expansion committee is slated to meet Friday morning before a round of “in-person meetings next week involving Big 12 athletic directors and media and television consultants.”
“We’re continually talking to (Big 12) commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby as well as Oliver Luck,” Hocutt said in the story. “(We) feel very fortunate to have Oliver engaged in our conversations in helping us navigate the waters, as well.
“There is a lot of interest in the Big 12 Conference,” he added. “There is a lot of interest for people to be associated with us, to join with us. So we will take our time, be diligent and make sure we make the right strategic decisions for the long-term future.”