Raise your hand if you feel like conference realignment is being handled the right way.
I’m guessing your hand is still on your mouse or holding your phone. If so, you’re not alone. Business leaders, athletic officials, the public at large and Baylor President Ken Starr are all right there with you.
Four prominent Texas businessmen — San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, former San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger, former governor Mark White and Astros owner Drayton McLane — took out a full-age ad in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News calling “smart-minded people of goodwill to bring order and sensibility” to the discussions.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick over the weekend told USA Today, “I’d like to know how much of these discussions are: What’s right? What is the best thing for the larger enterprise, and how many other schools would be adversely impacted? I just don’t know that that’s happening.”
And today we learned that college football fans at large feel the same way. A scientific survey of college graduates across the Big 12 region, commissioned by Baylor and conducted by a leading market research firm, found that just 37% of respondents believe conference realignment discussions “appear to be taking place in an honorable and transparent fashion.”
Over a month ago, as this whole conference realignment mess really began rolling, Judge Starr publicly urged his fellow university presidents to discuss such matters “with honor and in a spirit of full disclosure to fellow institutions and the entire constituent body.”
Instead, we get news over the weekend that two more institutions are jumping conferences, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse head from the Big East to the ACC. Syracuse was a founding member of the Big East, while Pitt’s chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, had previously slammed four schools that made the same Big East-to-ACC jump in 2003. (Sadly, the news came less than 24 hours after the death of the Big East’s founding commissioner.)
Some have called Baylor leaders hypocritical for taking the high road, since BU moved to the Big 12 when the Southwest Conference crumbled back in the mid ’90s; Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon explained the errors with that argument last week. Others have called Baylor naive for caring about what’s best for all involved, instead of solely focusing on what’s best for the university alone.
I, for one, am proud to see Baylor standing firm in a chaotic world. I’m proud to see Baylor administrators exemplifying for our students that complex issues require openness and cooperation, not a fallback to looking out for number one. And I’m proud to see others beginning to carry that banner as well.
Sic ’em, Judge Starr!
For further reading:
- Big 12 teams failing to see that if league blows up, everybody loses — Sports Illustrated
- Need college football changed forever? Call your dentist — CBS Sports
- Greed and hypocrisy spell the end of the Big East as we know it — ESPN
- Big 12 intrigue reflects poorly on learned institutions — Waco Tribune-Herald