You may have seen national media reports this week regarding the possible realignment of the Big 12 Conference, of which Baylor has been a part since the league’s formation in 1996. As new Baylor President Ken Starr reported in his message Friday, he and Director of Athletics Ian McCaw are working tirelessly on Baylor’s behalf to help keep the Big 12 together.
Reportedly, the Pac-10 Conference has been preparing to invite six Big 12 members to join a proposed 16-team megaconference. Initial news reports said Baylor was not among those who would be invited, leaving our beloved Baylor to fend for itself, either staying in a much reduced version of the Big 12 or looking to find a lesser conference partnership elsewhere. A new report late Saturday, however, indicated that Baylor’s stock is rapidly rising (a report subsequently carried by ESPN, the Dallas Morning News, Waco Tribune-Herald and many others). While all this is speculative at this point, Baylor has made it clear that its desire — rooted in the best interests of both the university and the great state of Texas — is that the Lone Star state schools of the Big 12 should stick together.
Baylor’s strong preference is to keep the Big 12 Conference intact. But what’s most important is that Baylor retains its deserved place among the nation’s elite athletic conferences, along with its fellow Texas institutions. As we’ve all witnessed, visibility in athletics is great for Baylor, thanks to the impact it has on national name recognition and reputation for our alma mater. But it is also good for Texas, in terms of the economic impact that a strong quartet of athletic powerhouses such as the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor can have on the state in terms of dollars, jobs and student recruitment. And, of course, there’s the pride that we feel both as alumni and as Texans when our programs dominate the athletic landscape as they did during the recent basketball season.
If you’re as proud of Baylor as I am, there may be something you can do to help. Tell your friends about Baylor’s successes and its importance in the Big 12; share your green and gold pride whenever you have the opportunity. The Texas legislature may have some say in what happens; think about letting your elected officials know how important it is to keep the Big 12 together and the Texas schools of the Big 12 a cohesive unit — not only for Baylor, but for fans across Texas.
As the Dallas Morning News noted this morning, Baylor student-athletes have excelled in the Big 12, helping lead the conference both athletically and academically. Here are just a few examples of Baylor’s success:
- Over the last seven years, only Texas and Texas A&M have won more Big 12 titles than Baylor.
- In 2009-10, Baylor set a school record for the second year in a row as 15 of the school’s 18 varsity teams played in the postseason.
- Academically, Baylor student-athletes have led the conference in graduation rate five times and finished second three times in the Big 12′s 14 seasons, earning special recognition from the NCAA in three of the past five seasons.
- As Judge Starr noted in his letter, Baylor ranks fourth among Big 12 schools in the latest U.S. News rankings.
Baylor nation, let’s take this cause as our own. Fight with all your might, you Bruins bold, and let’s win this victory for the green and gold!
Sic ’em, Baylor family!