By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the Big 12 Conference’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
Two weeks of meetings, rumors, negotiations, teleconferences and the departure of two original members has left the Big 12 with 10 schools that are committed to the Conference. Texas announced late Monday afternoon that it had rejected an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference and said it would "continue competing in the Big 12."
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott issued the following statement: “University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together.”
Texas A&M, which had been rumored to have been interested in the Southeastern Conference, issued the following statement Monday night: "Texas A&M is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference and will continue to be affiliated with the conference in the future."
Oklahoma president David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione issued a joint statement: "The decision to stay in the Big 12 represents a consensus position which resulted from a collaborative effort with our colleagues in the conference. We value the strong working relationship that has been reaffirmed during this process among the conference members. We intend to work very hard to make the conference as lasting and dynamic as possible. We appreciate the respect and interest that has been shown to OU during this process."
Kansas State president Kirk Schulz and athletics director John Currie issued the following statement:
"Obviously, we are buoyed by the commitments of our existing colleagues and league institutions to preserve the Big 12 Conference and its position as one of the nation's top leagues. Our sincere appreciation goes to all of our league partners, and certainly Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe and his staff, for their hard work during this process. Our league has a very bright future and we are looking forward to new levels of growth and opportunity."
And here's a statement from Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw:
"Baylor athletics has a bright future and we look forward to continued success with our historic partners in the Big 12 Conference for many years to come. We have been blessed with extraordinary efforts and leadership from the Board of Regents, President Starr, key alumni and friends. We are both humbled and grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from the Baylor family in recent days."Texas has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe will hold a teleconference tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. A meeting of the Texas board of regents scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled.
A dozen days ago, the Big 12 was holding its spring meetings in Kansas City. While those meetings were in progress, a report broke that the Pac-10 planned to invite six Big 12 schools to expand to a 16-team league. Last Thursday, Colorado accepted an invitation to the Pac-10 and the next day Nebraska announced it would move to the Big Ten Conference.
With the Pac-10 and the SEC courting Texas and Texas A&M, there were myriad reports that the Big 12 would dissolve with either four or five teams headed to the Pac-10 and perhaps A&M moving to the SEC.
Over the weekend, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe worked tirelessly to convince the 10 remaining Conference schools to remain together. The commissioner pointed out the advantage of maintaining regional rivalries and not adding lengthy travel burdens for student-athletes.
But the main weapon in Beebe’s arsenal was television. A new cable television deal is expected to increase the Big 12’s revenue sharing significantly; each of the Conference’s 10 schools could increase their per-team revenue to $17 million to $20 million each.