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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Colorado looks for Big 12 exit strategy

Buffaloes hoping to start play in Pac-10 by 2011

Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes.

Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes.

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— University of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said he hopes to know within a month how much it’s going to cost the school to bolt the Big 12 for the Pac-10.

Lawyers for both conferences and the university are in discussions on an exit strategy for CU, which announced earlier this month it was switching leagues in 2012.

The Buffaloes would prefer to leave after next season like the University of Nebraska, which is joining the Big Ten in 2011.

That could prove costlier for Colorado, but the Big 12 also might decide it’s better for the Buffaloes to leave after next school year and agree to a lower penalty fee.

Big 12 bylaws require CU to forfeit half its Big 12 revenue distributions for the next two school years in order to leave the league. According to IRS tax records examined by the Associated Press, the Big 12 paid out $10,135,802 to Colorado in 2008-09.

That would make the buyout around $10 million, although Bohn said the cost for leaving after one year is undefined.

“There’s some ambiguity in the buyout, so we’re trying to figure it out,” Bohn said before the annual College Football Kickoff Luncheon. “We really have a desire to come up with answers because we want to continue to fuel that interest” in joining the Pac-10.

“I do know that it is extremely complex, and we recognize that the timing of the University of Colorado’s departure has implications to 22 institutions,” Bohn said.

Had Texas and other Big 12 schools followed CU to the Pac-10, there might not have been any buyout necessary because the Big 12 would have dissolved. But the Longhorns declined Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott’s invitation, and so did Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech.

The only certainty in all this complexity is that the Buffs will be playing in the Pac-10 by 2012-13. “We do know that,” Bohn said. “Everything else is unresolved.”

No matter the ultimate cost of leaving the Big 12, Bohn insisted the university is already reaping the rewards of switching conferences.

“We’re benefiting every day with that intensity of interest in the program that helps us with recruiting, it helps us with our donor base, it helps us with the media, it helps us with our faculty,” Bohn said.

He said there has been a rise in donations to the department since the announcement that the school was joining the Pac-10, but he declined to be specific.

Among the many tasks involved in the transition is redoing football schedules.

“We had some schedule models in place through 2020, but that will be altered significantly, potentially starting in ’11,” Bohn said.

The Buffs also are awaiting announcements on whether teams will play eight or nine league games in the Pac-10, which also lured Utah from the Mountain West Conference, making it eligible for a conference championship.

“I think that’s the most frustrating thing is as we’re gaining excitement associated with this move, we don’t have all the details,” Bohn said. “We want to continue to fuel that intensity of interest that our program desperately needs, and you can fuel it by talking about championships and models and schedules and that’s the hardest thing is not being able to share that yet.”

Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins skipped the luncheon because he was at his daughter’s wedding.

Hawkins is on the hot seat, having posted four non-winning seasons in Boulder, where his decision to recruit his son, Cody, to play quarterback has backfired.

“I have a lot of confidence in Dan,” Bohn said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do off the field, and he recognizes in Year 5, as we all do, that the expectations are high for the scoreboard this fall.”

The Buffs are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1990 football championship this fall and will recognize Alfred Williams, a member of that team who was elected into the college football hall of fame this spring.

“It’s a big year for Dan. We all know that,” Bohn said. “But it’s an opportunity for us to say goodbye to the Big 12 Conference potentially ... but also use that to enhance future recruiting possibilities and future growth of the program.”

The Big 12 exit isn’t the only buyout on Bohn’s plate. He said he’s still awaiting the $500,000 that former basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik owes the university for breaking his contract to take over at Wake Forest.

“We’re working through that, and I don’t anticipate any problems,” Bohn said. “It’s just kind of taken a back burner with all these other issues. But we remain very respectful and appreciative of what Jeff did for us.”

Notes

Among the attendees was MWC commissioner Craig Thompson, whose rescheduling task was made easier when Utah left the league for the Pac-10. Now, Boise State, which left the Western Athletic Conference for the MWC, more than likely will just take Utah’s place on the league schedule. ... With the Utes’ departure, Thompson is thrilled to have Boise State, 26-1 over the last two years, as the MWC enters the third year of a four-year cycle to gain an automatic bid in the BCS.

— AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.

Comments

KEITHMILES05 12 years, 1 month ago

Screw Colo and Bohn. They are total has beens.

Benjamin Piehler 12 years, 1 month ago

goodbye big 12 basement, hello pac 10 cellar!

Scott Bonnet 12 years, 1 month ago

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

theajayhawk 12 years, 1 month ago

“We’re benefiting every day with that intensity of interest in the program that helps us with recruiting, it helps us with our donor base, it helps us with the media, it helps us with our faculty,” Bohn said.

  • I have never met an Executive who doesn't come up with reasons to justify his/her earlier decision.

jahawkdave 12 years, 1 month ago

I would say unless CU starts producing some quality wins in fb and mbb, Bohn the Kansas alum and former Jayhawk FB and baseball player, nor Hawkins may not make it to the PAC 10.

I'm glad to see CU's dismal mbb out of the league as well as Neb. They are both used to finishing at the bottom of a 12 team league which will be nothing new to them in the future.

Losing athletic scholarships due to academics was the first step out the door for Bohn, losing in it's final year of the Big XII will leave Bohn and Hawkins looking for Associate AD and coordinator jobs while CU moves on the cellar of the PAC 10.

Chris1955 12 years, 1 month ago

Don't you just love it when a bad plan and a horrible decision comes together! Yahoo!

Jeff Coffman 12 years, 1 month ago

Isn't Colorado in Boulder and Colorado State in Colorado Springs.

All I know is that Colorado might get 50% of its revenue this year, but next year it will be gone, so no distribution.

That's what is making the Big 12 so exciting.

smokedturkey 12 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, saw that too. CU is in Boulder. Colo State is in Fort Collins (north). Colorado Springs does have UCCS (Univ of Colo at Colo Springs), but I am not sure if they are even affiliated...pretty sure not. Come to expect that type of reporting from the east and west coast reporters.

Marcia Parsons 12 years, 1 month ago

I think both of you missed the point that the luncheon where this interview took place was held in Colorado Springs. I don't believe it ever claimed to be the home of CU, just the location of the annual College Football Kickoff Luncheon.

gchawk 12 years, 1 month ago

This is just 1 more example of why I'm so happy with the Big XII staying intact, it's not letting these loser's get off scott free. They, meaning CU and NU, will rue the day they decided to bolt. I can't imagine the reception they'll feel this season when playing any of the remaining Big XII schools away from their respective home's, won't be pretty.

KUFan90 12 years, 1 month ago

It's hard to put lipstick on a pig ain't it Bohn?

This plan completely blew up in their faces when the other schools stayed and now they're left scrambling to put a positive spin on it. Hilarious.

Scott Smetana 12 years, 1 month ago

Couldn't agree more. This is a DISASTER for CU. (and Pac10). CU bailed from the ship and the ship didn't sink. Most of their fans at football and BB games were us from the Big 12 who traveled there. They are also broke before this happened. They haven't done anything in any sport in 20 years. They can't afford $3M to buyout their lame FB coach... good luck coming up with $10M. Also, I don't think anyone from the Pac 10 bothered to check that nobody in the "Denver Market" watches anything CU.

I'm just bitter that fun road games to Boulder are over. I be the local bars love that too.

KGphoto 12 years, 1 month ago

I agree with the disaster part, but CU's football program is still miles ahead of KU. They are still landing top notch recruits. Right now they have 3 running backs that KU never had a chance to land, including the #1 rated H.S. RB of 2 years ago.

They just have a joke of a coach. If they make a smart coaching choice soon, they'll be right back on top.

And the fans still fill that stadium for every game. I don't see the football program falling apart. In fact, with a good coach they could be right at the top of the PAC 11.

1977kufan 12 years, 1 month ago

jhawkrulz, Colorado U (I can not even begin to type the University of well, you know...) is in Boulder. Colorado State University is in Fort Collins (not Colorado Springs). The Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs and CU-Colorado Springs is obvious. I hope that helps you. After observing some of the decisions made by officials at CU (both in the remote and now in the more recent past), it is obvious that most of the decisions from CU are made after a protracted stay in Golden, CO (after plentiful imbibing at the Coors facility)!!!

Dan Pawlowski 12 years, 1 month ago

No they have better taste than that. Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state and Boulder has some awesome brews.

Dirtwood 12 years, 1 month ago

Not really related..sort of...but...everyone (at least everyone in the press) earlier in the month talking about how Texas A&M was such a coveted prize for the SEC or PAC-10 and how A&M wanted to have more clout in the Big-12? Has anyone really looked at what a&m has done football or basketball wise since the Big 12 was formed.....NOTHING...they suck! Kansas deserves more recognition than A&M and certainly more than they have been getting

Scott Smetana 12 years, 1 month ago

A&M was simply pretending that it was important. Not a bad move from a mediocre athletic dept.

DocBean 12 years, 1 month ago

Too bad anything they give up is going to line the pockets of the Texas and Oklahoma schools. It would be nice if it were split evenly and handed out to the remaining schools. How did we become the small fish in this pond?

Tony Bandle 12 years, 1 month ago

DocBean

The formula is simple:

Kansas Football times Decades of sucking divided by the total number of fans leaving early minus the total number of diehard basketball fans equals a small fish in a big pond!!

Look at it this way, the Kansas basketball program times decades of top flight ball divided by almost no fans leaving early minus relatively few diehard football fans equals a killer whale in a fish bowl!!

The cheese curts both ways!!

Tony Bandle 12 years, 1 month ago

OOPs...make that "cuts", but you get the general idea.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

"Epitaph for CU"

"In my beginning is my end."--T.S. Eliot

ku_foaf 12 years, 1 month ago

10 years from now they'll just be the neighbor kids that moved away. We won't even think about them at all.

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