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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Beebe memo: Pac-10 has 'fair-weather fans'

By Diamond Leung

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is scheduled to hold a triumphant teleconference today to discuss the survival of a 10-team conference and how he managed to salvage it.

SI.com appears to have uncovered one of Beebe's persuasion methods, as the website, through a public records request, obtained an e-mail Beebe sent to Big 12 presidents on June 1.

And in the e-mail in which Beebe urges the presidents to commit to the Big 12, he made one of his points by calling out fans of the Pac-10 for being "fair weather."

"For those considering possible membership in the Pac-10, I hope that full consideration is given to the student-athlete and fan experience," Beebe writes. "I grew up in Pac-10 territory and although there are outstanding institutions in the conference, the facilities and fair-weather fans are a disappointment. I suggest that the fan support for their regular-season games and championships, and the accompanying image that projects, should be carefully examined."

Was Beebe, a Walla Walla, Wash., native, being overly dramatic with the rhetoric in order to sway the presidents, or just simply telling it how it is?

The business of expansion revolves around football, but since Beebe doesn't make that distinction in painting with a broad brush, let's go to the NCAA's men's basketball attendance figures for this season as one measure to see if the Pac-10's fans indeed are fair weather.

The Pac-10, which experienced a talent drop-off with many players lost to the NBA, went through one of its worst seasons in recent memory.

Attendance certainly reflected that, with the conference's home games dropping to 8,164 per game, an average that ranks seventh in the NCAA among conferences and just behind the Mountain West Conference. The Big 12 averaged a conference record high of 11,214, good for third in the nation.

So knowing that along with your first-person experiences with Pac-10 fans, was Beebe right in his assessment? Or did he unfairly disparage the supporters of an entire conference for the sake of saving his own?

Either way, Colorado can't say it wasn't warned.