Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Re-alignment hot topic at Big 12 meetings

Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins stands on the sideline during the Jayhawks’ game against Texas on Nov. 21 in Austin, Texas.

Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins stands on the sideline during the Jayhawks’ game against Texas on Nov. 21 in Austin, Texas.


— With the college athletics landscape seemingly ready to change around them, administrators from the Big 12 Conference assembled Tuesday at the Intercontinental Hotel to discuss the different scenarios associated with conference re-alignment.

Big 12 expansion talks continue

Representatives for the Big 12 Conference gathered in Kansas City, Mo., for the first day of meetings that will last through the week. KU athletic director Lew Perkins said he believes it will be best for KU to remain in the Big 12.

About an hour before the first of the annual Big 12 meetings began, Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins, who has landed in the middle of a messy blackmail scheme and ticket-scalping scandal, offered his thoughts about the revamping of the current conference structure.

“What’s important to Kansas? The Big 12,” Perkins said. “We’re in the perfect place for us to be.”

Rumors have run rampant about at least three of the conference’s schools being ready to jump ship — Nebraska and Missouri to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10 — but Perkins said he hoped the Big 12 could find a way to make all of its schools happy, most likely by signing a more lucrative television deal.

If it cannot, and if any one of the schools searching for greener pastures decides to leave, KU could find itself in scramble mode.

“The Big Ten has been in existence for 100 years, the Pac-10 for 100 years,” Perkins said. “If you really analyze this, we’re teenagers; we’re just young kids, and I want to grow old with my siblings.”

Walking the line between desire and preparation in a business such as college athletics can be a dangerous proposition. That’s why, even with the intention of keeping the Big 12 together, Perkins talked openly about the steps KU has taken to protect itself from a fallout.

For starters, Perkins said his phone lines have been busy.

“I won’t go into any details,” he said. “But you’re not in this business 42 years (without having) discussions with a lot of people. People are calling me, I’m calling them, we’re communicating. It’s there.”

When asked if he would listen if the Big 10 came calling, Perkins added to the drama.

“How do you know they haven’t called us?” he asked with a smile.

Perkins has maintained a cautious frame of mind throughout. That comes largely from the experience he had as the AD at Connecticut several years back, when Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech continually told the Big East they were staying and then bolted for the ACC without looking back.

“I sat in a room eight, nine years ago and heard people say a bunch of different things that ended up not being the case,” Perkins said. “If I said I wasn’t worried, I’d be a fool. I am worried every day about what’s going to happen, not only at Kansas or in the Big 12, but in the Pac-10 and the Big Ten. This is serious, serious, serious stuff. So it’s important that we as administrators stay focused.”

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was the picture of poise Tuesday afternoon. Following the two-hour meeting of conference officials, Beebe spoke with reporters for 38 minutes, answering every question thrown his way while mixing in an occasional joke.

His responses touched on everything from concern about schools leaving to the general belief that the conference was in position for a nice raise in terms of television revenue in the near future. Each answer shared a common theme that was in line with what Perkins had said earlier.

“I think it’s very serious,” Beebe said. “And I think it’s something that we better be very careful about. If we come to a day where there are four 16-member conferences, then it’s going to be a sad day, and it’s going to be very difficult to not have more legal issues and interventions. The pressures will be immense for certain programs to be successful, (and) there will be less chances to win conference championships and national championships.”

Despite all the doom-and-gloom scenarios presented to him Tuesday, Beebe — a self-described “glass-half-full guy” — seemed confident in his belief that the Big 12 would survive. Asked what he thought the chances of nothing happening to the Big 12 were, Beebe said, “Very high, based on conversations we’ve had and the feelings that have been expressed about the value of the conference and what it’s done for so many in such a short period of time.”

Asked seconds later if he believed the conference still would be around a decade from now, Beebe’s answer was even more to the point: “Yes.”

Added Baylor AD Ian McCaw, this year’s chairman of the Big 12 athletic directors: “We’re very encouraged by the dialogue, and we have two more days of meetings to go. It was a productive day.”


Aaron Carpenter 8 years ago

I just don't seem to buy what Lew says. He has shown time and time again since he got here that the almighty dollar is king. Many of the things he has done "for KU" seem to be more of a resume builder for himself. If the money is right, Lew would bolt.

Jonathan Allison 8 years ago

as though doubling KU's athletics budget is a bad thing for an athletic director to do...

Rick Arnoldy 8 years ago

Resume building for what? He’s 65 years old. I think his track record is pretty well set.

Chris1955 8 years ago

Just form an alliance with the Pac 10 and circumvent all of the Big 10 talk. Also, I think Notre Dame needs to be forced into the Big 10, or have teams announce they wont schedule ND football in the future.

Steve Corder 8 years ago

Would it not be slightly ironic if the Big 12 became the Big 8 again with the help of the old Southwest Conference? But truth is noboby knows how this will play-out., but it's fun to speculate.

What must ISU be thinking/doing?

If KU doesn't prepare to make their own deal with a super conference (which Perkins is doing) then alumni had better be prepared to dig into their pockets like never before!

(not very exciting) KSU OSU KU

Baylor TCU TxTech TxA&M Houston & or Rice

Jonathan Allison 8 years ago

It certainly would be a nightmare scenario to lose Texas, OU, Nebraska, Mizzou, Colorado, and ISU. We could recover from losing the last three, but the top three would leave a hole in the conference that can't be filled.

This would never happen, because it goes against everything that the NCAA is trying to do with expanding conferences for the purpose of creating conference championship games in the Big 10, PAC 10, and Big East.

Danny Hernandez 8 years ago

"How do you know the Big10 hasn't called"? I believe in Lew Perkins and he might be the smartest AD in the big12 so as long as he is our AD, I'm not worried. He has doubled our athletic budget and will keep Kansas a viable candidate for any conference. Face it, our school and basketball program would be a coup for any conference that gets us.

Justin Lindsley 8 years ago

Why can't the Big 12 expand. We have a good conference! Why does everyone automatically assume that the Big 12 is going to fold. I'm sure there are some worthy schools out there who would like to join the Big 12.

FreddyinLA 8 years ago

From a competitive standpoint, the only sport we have a chance of winning a conference title will be basketball. Everything else has little to no chance of winning a title in a major conference. Based on that, I would suggest making KU basketball independent, like ND in football. Play 25 home games in the best arena in basketball, and 5 tough roadies. Put everything else in a mid-major conference where at least we would have a possibility of winning a title once in a while.

The Pac-10 would kill us in the minor sports and football....forever.

Eric Williams 8 years ago

Women's soccer is good.

Women's volleyball is good.

Men's baseball won the Big XII tournament a few years back.

I'm presuming you're in L.A. and won't fault you for lack of coverage (since I only get Big Ten in Chicago), but KU is not bad in the non-moneymaking sports.

I think our struggles in football (historically speaking) overshadow the success our Athletics Department has across the board.

Spencer Goff 8 years ago

You forgot our bowling national champions! Rock Chalk Jayhawk GO KU!

FreddyinLA 8 years ago

When I stated "competitive", I mean winning a Big 12 regular season title. Besides men's basketball, I can't think of any. Good, and winning a regular season ring, are two different animals.

buckleyhawk 8 years ago

People all of the sudden seem to forget that UT can't go anywhere without A&M, which might be to the benefit of the Big 12 (at least those that want it to stay the way it is).

trmatlock 8 years ago

Missouri sucks anyway. And let Nebraska go. Go get Arkansas and let's say.....New Mexico St........or.....hmmmm...

Adam Collins 8 years ago

Is it just me, or does nobody else think keeping the 2nd longest college rivalry alive is a good thing?

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