After nearly two months of reports, rumors and worries, it appears that the Big 12 Conference will remain one of the nation’s premier conferences. If you haven’t been following closely, here’s where things stand today.
Early last week, the tide began to change as business leaders and media outlets echoed the call for clear thinking and responsible actions regarding conference realignment. After the Pac-12 Conference announced last Tuesday that it intended to remain a 12-team conference, Big 12 institutions returned to the table to iron out details that will ensure conference stability.
On Thursday, the Big 12 presidents conferred and began making moves toward solidifying the conference going forward. Commissioner Dan Beebe was replaced on an interim basis by former Big Eight Commissioner Chuck Neinas, a well-respected figure in college athletics nationwide.
Big 12 presidents also discussed granting their primary TV rights to the conference for six years, a move that is the norm in conferences such as the Big 10 and Pac-12. A long-term pledge of that sort is generally considered an effective means of preserving a conference, since it restricts the financial benefit of teams changing conferences. (If a member left one conference for another, the new conference would not have television rights for that school until its original conference rights expired.)
Sunday night, the Southeastern Conference announced that it would unconditionally accept Texas A&M beginning with the 2012 football season. Meanwhile, there is talk about the Big 12 expanding; reports suggest that BYU and TCU are possible candidates for conference expansion.
So what’s next for Baylor fans? In an e-mail Friday, President Ken Starr thanked Baylor Nation for its support throughout this tumultuous time and urged fans to continue to rise up in support of the university and its athletic programs. That means continuing to fill Floyd Casey Stadium; so far, attendance is averaging more than 42,000 fans per game. It also means joining the university in financial support of our athletic programs; one important way to do this is through the Bear Foundation’s Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Conference officials continue to meet regularly to plan for the future of the Big 12, and our work as fans is also far from done. We have to seize this opportunity to show the Big 12 and others across the country that Baylor Nation is committed to the success of this university and its athletic programs. You can keep up with the latest progress in the Big 12 by visiting www.baylor.edu/nation; while there, you will also find a very easy way to make a gift to the athletic scholarship fund.
Sic ’em, Bears!