Since the news of a possible Texas-A&M-to-the-SEC move broke about a month ago, Baylor officials have been consistent in their stance and message, emphasizing the importance of not throwing away successful, historic rivalries for the sake of bigger TV contracts.
Recently, it has looked as if college athletics was about to turn into a free-for-all, with conferences raiding one another just to avoid being raided themselves. Lost in the midst of this mad scramble for the next lucrative TV contract is any sense of what’s best for the universities involved. Absent from the discussion is any consideration of the welfare of the student-athletes, the best interests of the fans (who watch historic rivalries go by the wayside), the effect on the home states involved (which have much to lose in the shuffle), and the impact such hysteria can have on the very essence of the collegiate football experience.
At the moment, the carousel’s turning has at least slowed as regards the Big 12. Currently, SEC leaders are awaiting written assurances from each Big 12 school that they will agree to waive their institutional rights regarding future conference expansion and any negative impact that might have on member institutions. In a statement issued earlier today, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe made it clear that each of the schools in the Big 12 retains its individual rights. He further noted that significant changes to the Big 12 membership could negatively affect Big 12 institutions that were counting on revenue streams from contracts that were previously approved unanimously by Big 12 members, including Texas A&M. I have yet to hear of any Big 12 institution that has signed such a waiver.
As always, Baylor officials are working hard with the university’s best interests in mind. It’s important that Baylor remain on the national stage, so that people nationwide get to learn about BU and all that it has to offer — as they did with the big win over TCU Friday, and the men’s basketball team’s Elite Eight run, and the women’s basketball national championship, and … well, you get the idea.
But there’s something bigger than just Baylor’s interests at stake here. This is about doing the right thing. There are real costs when universities begin to break commitments and contracts (beyond simply setting a bad example for the young minds on campus) — up to and including anarchy in the world of college athletics.
Baylor is standing up for itself and for the integrity of college athletics, and people are starting to take notice. The Sporting News called Baylor “the closest thing to a hero at this point,” adding that BU “is fighting to keep alive a workable business that has value to literally millions of people.” CBS Sports applauded Baylor for speaking out. CNN has picked up the story. A Yahoo! Sports headline today reads “College sports realignment capers a study in greed.”
In short, Baylor is standing up for our university, but also for something bigger. Our leaders have stepped into a space that few would have the courage to enter, but one that is gaining traction. Of that, we can all be proud.
Sic ’em, Baylor!