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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Beebe's other dire sales pitch

By Eamonn Brennan

Diamond, my blog brother from another blog mother, already told you about Dan Beebe's June 1 memo to Big 12 officials considering defectionThat memo [PDF] included the warning that Pac-10 fans were "fair-weather." It's an eyebrow-raiser of a statement, whether it's true or not. (Most Pac-10 fans would probably disagree.) If anything, it shows how desperate Beebe was to build some semblance of of Big 12 pride in his conference's teams in the face of a potentially disastrous migration westward.

There's at least one other somewhat comical warning in Beebe's memo, one that probably had very little to do with convincing Texas and company to stay in the Big 12, but one worth recounting here anyway. That warning? If you leave for the Pac-10, you might one day have to -- gasp! -- pay your players:

"Pressure to compete may rise with resulting higher salaries and more churning of ADs and coaches," Beebe wrote. "Clear identification of the highest level of intercollegiate athletics reduced to a smaller grouping of schools (e.g., four 16-member conferences) could cause eventual tax consequences and tremendous pressure to pay those student-athletes responsible in programs driving the most revenue and pressure, and whose coaches and administrators are receiving more and more financial rewards."

Oh, the horror! Actually having to face pressure to pay "the student-athletes responsible in programs driving the most revenue"? The very thought is enough to make a college president shudder.

Beebe's claim is circumspect. It would take a lot of realignment, a lot of imbalance, and a lot of sudden political interest from the highest levels of government to coordinate that sort of widespread "pay the players" movement. It's been a conversation for as long as the NCAA has existed. It's hard to imagine 16-team superconferences facing that much more pressure on this point than 10- and 12-team conferences already have. And even if the pressure came, that's no guarantee anything would change.

Still, it's funny to hear a conference commissioner use this is a dire warning. You mean schools might have to actually pay the people primarily responsible -- Beebe even calls them "responsible" --  for generating the millions of dollars in revenue annually sloshing around bigtime college sports? Something schools should probably be doing anyway? A terrifying dystopian future indeed.