Friday, June 11, 2010
Baylor AD wants 10-team Big 12
By Jeff Caplan
Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, as well as president Ken Starr, held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the latest developments in the deconstruction of the Big 12 Conference. McCaw again called for unity, which would appear to be Baylor's only shot at remaining in a major conference.
Here is the text of the press conference:
Opening statement… “As all of you are now aware, the University of Colorado yesterday accepted an invitation to (join) the Pac-10 Conference and announced that they will be leaving the Big 12. We also learned this afternoon that the University of Nebraska has received and accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference. President (Ken) Starr and I have repeatedly stated that we fully support the Big 12 Conference and want to see it continue and prosper. We also said that we think it is very important that the four Texas Big 12 schools remain aligned in the same conference. We want you to know that President Starr and I are continuing to work tirelessly and around the clock to preserve the membership of the Big 12.
To the people of the state of Texas, the Big 12 contributes powerfully to our economy. A study recently done by The Perryman Group suggested that Big 12 membership contributes $700 million and 6,000 jobs to Central Texas in addition to supporting our traditional rivalries that have lasted more than a century. The situation in the conference remains fluid. I can tell you that we believe there is tremendous economic value in a 10-team Big 12 model. In fact, last week in Kansas City at our conference meetings, the Big 12 television partners presented future revenue projections and an analysis of those revenue projections suggested that a 10-team model actually provides more revenue per school than the current revenue projections.
A 10-team Big 12 would also allow for a nine-game Big 12 Conference football schedule and an 18-game men’s and women’s basketball schedule. Those have both been of significant interest to both administrators and fans within the conference for the last several years. This new schedule model would also provide the opportunity for the Big 12 to determine a true conference champion in football and basketball. It will also save members the skyrocketing cost of paying guarantees to non-conference opponents. In addition, travel cost and missed class time would be reduced in this model and thereby serve the best interest of student-athletes. That is very important at Baylor and we hope that the student-athlete welfare is meaningful to our fellow Big 12 members as well. While we can’t predict the future, we can assure you that President Starr and I will work extremely hard to ensure that we have a competitive 10-team Big 12 Conference. We also hope that the citizens of Texas as well as the citizens of the other home states of Big 12 schools will have an opportunity to participate in the important decisions that are being made that are so vital to all of our communities.”
On the other schools choosing a 10-team Big 12… “We are certainly hopeful they will (choose a 10-team Big 12). Again, we see this as a very attractive alternative for us. We have discussed a nine-game schedule and an 18-game schedule in football and basketball, respectively. It is met with a lot of enthusiasm. Our television partners have given us great encouragement regarding the revenue possibilities of a 10-team Big 12 and I know Commissioner (Dan) Beebe is working on getting additional data to present to the membership. We are hopeful and we remain encouraged that this is a model that will allow the Big 12 to continue to thrive.”
On an alternative to the 10-team model… “At this point we are focused on keeping the Big 12 together and maintaining the rivalries that we have enjoyed with our (three) Big 12 Texas brothers. Those traditions go over the last 100 years and we certainly want to do everything we can to maintain those rivalries in the conference structure.”
On trying to mobilize among the remaining Big 12 teams… “I have had the opportunity to be in daily, if not hourly, contact with my Big 12 peers. We are sharing information and again we are making every effort we can to persuade everyone why we believe that maintaining the Big 12 is in the best interest of the membership, in the best interest of the conference and in the best interest of the state and citizens that are represented and that effort will continue.”
On the key parties of the decision… “Our efforts are focused on the 10 members of the conference because we feel that we have a wonderful conference. You can make an excellent case that the Big 12 is the best football conference in the country. We were number one in RPI for men’s and women’s basketball. We have great Olympic sports, great spring sports. The Big 12 has added tremendous value to each of these institutions. If you look at where they stood 14 years ago to where they stand today, the Big 12 has been powerful in terms of its contribution to each member. So we are focusing our efforts on each and every one.”
On Texas joining the Pac-10… “Personally, I think that each and every one of the 10 institutions is better served remaining in the Big 12 than leaving for another conference. I genuinely believe that and I am not alone in that opinion.”
Baylor President Ken Starr
On enlisting local and state politicians… “We welcome the careful analysis of our elected public officials. We think this is a vitally important policy question for the state of Texas. This is the future of college athletics for a number of very important institutions in the state of Texas. The entire nation is watching to see whether there is in fact a focusing upon the vitally important questions that have been raised, including by Congressman (Chet) Edwards in his letter (Thursday). Vitally important questions have been raised now by Senators (Chuck) Grassley and (Tom) Harkin of Iowa. There are a myriad of questions that merit analysis and answering of before the major disruption to this wonderful conference.”
“The entire Baylor family is a vast family and I am the newest member of the family. And happily I do have telephone numbers and I am using my telephone to reach out to decision makers and opinion shapers to say this is such a fabulous, wonderful and successful conference and we should all be working to preserve it as fully as possible. “
On Texas joining the Pac-10… “I would just add that in Kansas City last week, each of the ADs, other representatives from the institutions, the Presidents or the Chancellors spoke very pointedly about what that individual President or Chancellor or AD felt was is in the best interest of the particular institution. Those are the judgments that are being made. We believe that it is in the best interest of all the institutions in the Big 12 and the 10 teams that remain to keep the conference intact for all of the reasons that Ian (McCaw) has very well set forth. But obviously these are individual judgments that individual institutions are coming to. What we do know is that there is a lot of sentiment and sympathy throughout the conference for keeping the conference intact; an enormous amount of sympathy and support for keeping the conference intact. From whether that is going to be the decision of individual institutions obviously remains to be seen. Baylor University is committed to the Big 12 and we are just encouraging and urging other institutions to analyze the facts and, in particular, to consider the traditions of this state and this conference and the welfare of student-athletes. We do not want the welfare of student-athletes to somehow not be fully considered. We earnestly hope that the welfare of our student-athletes will be a very heavy factor and that this process should not simply be driven by money.”
On the next legislature meeting… “I am not going to make a predictive judgment or speculate as to whether time is on the side of the integrity of the Big 12 Conference or not. But what I do know is John Adams famously stated, ‘In trial, facts are flinty things’ and there are a whole array of facts that we think cry out to be closely analyzed. And when those facts are analyzed the entirety of the policy questions affect the people of Texas, the fan base, the economic welfare and again, above all the welfare of our student-athletes. I believe that the reasonable and best judgment would be to keep the Big 12, with 10 teams, intact and that is the argument that we are making and the argument that we are pressing.”