Friday, September 16, 2022

Kansas Regents taking steps to ensure KU, other schools can’t change athletic conferences without prior approval

The Big 12 Conference logo is shown here in the lane of the north goal at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Big 12 Conference logo is shown here in the lane of the north goal at Allen Fieldhouse.


If the University of Kansas ever decides it wants to change athletic conferences, it is appearing likely that it will have to win some state approvals that aren’t required today.

Members of the Kansas Board of Regents are in the process of creating a new policy that would require any Regents university — KU, K-State, Wichita State, Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State and Emporia State — to get approvals from at least three non-university officials before moving to a new athletic conference.

The pending policy — which was recently approved by a subcommittee of the Regents, but not yet acted upon by the full board — comes on the heels of major conference realignment, which has sparked discussion about whether KU may need to move from the Big 12 Conference to protect its athletic programs.

Among the biggest shake-ups nationally has been the University of California-Los Angeles announcing plans to leave the Pac-12 Conference and join the Big Ten Conference in 2024. That planned move has drawn protests across California’s higher education scene, with allegations that other public schools in the state will be harmed if UCLA’s move diminishes or destroys the Pac-12 Conference.

“We saw with the UCLA situation that there wasn’t alignment there, and we want to make sure we move forward in alignment in Kansas,” Regents Chair Jon Rolph told the Journal-World on Thursday.

But Kansas officials are stopping far short of requiring that the full Board of Regents publicly approve any conference change. Instead, the Governance Committee of the Regents is recommending approval of a policy that would require the chair, vice chair and president/CEO of the Board of Regents to approve of any move to a new conference.

Rolph said the Regents are working to create a policy to ensure that the Board of Regents isn’t “notified after the fact” of a conference change. Some higher education leaders in California have alleged that was the situation with UCLA and its decision to move from the Pac-12 Conference to the Big Ten Conference. In California, everybody from the governor to Regents have considered retroactively removing UCLA’s authority to make its own decisions about conference membership. That could result in UCLA having to back out of its planned 2024 move to the Big Ten.

Kansas Regents want to avoid that situation with any move involving a Kansas university. But Rolph said he currently isn’t considering a requirement that the full Board of Regents be required in a public meeting to approve of a conference move. Rolph said negotiations at times can move very quickly and not align well with meeting schedules of the Regents.

“We think this process will allow the chair and vice chair to represent the views of the board,” Rolph said.

He also said that if there were disagreements among the Regents, the board could choose to have the entire board consider any conference changes before they are finalized.

The Regents have had a policy in place since 2020 — created shortly after Wichita State changed conferences — that requires the board chair and the president/CEO of the Regents to grant approval to begin negotiations about any potential change in conferences. While the current policy requires a university to get permission to negotiate, it does not require approval from any Regents official to actually change conferences. The proposed policy explicitly would require such approval.

“Expedited Board Chairman, Board Vice Chairman, and Board President and CEO approval shall also be required before the final decision to change is made and communicated to any third party,” the proposed policy reads.

Regent President and CEO Blake Flanders told the Governance Committee that he expects to be notified of any communication a university leader has regarding a change in conferences.

“I think there was some confusion over what is negotiating,” Flanders said. “What this would cover is really any discussion, which as we know discussions can turn into negotiations pretty quickly and it gets pretty fluid.”

Under the proposed policy, Rolph, Flanders and Carl Ice, the Regents' vice chair, who also is a leader of the Kansas State University Foundation, would be the three people required to grant approval for a conference change.

It is anticipated the full Board of Regents will consider the new policy for approval in the coming months.


Dirk Medema 1 week, 4 days ago

Interesting comments about ucla and the state. It’s not been newsworthy locally. Seems a bit pretentious, which is right in the wheelhouse for some.

Dale Rogers 1 week, 4 days ago

I live in California and it was a big topic here for awihle. I've heard nothing about it, though, in quite awhile. USC, on the other hand, is a private school and the state is apparently not addressing their move.

Dale Rogers 1 week, 4 days ago

No regent should be allowed to vote to approve nor disapprove a conference change if that Regent is an alum of any school in the same conference as the school wanting to leave OR of the conference to which the school wishes to join.

James Miller 1 week, 4 days ago

"ucla and the state?" You can totally say California. I promise it won't bite.

Benny Armstrong 1 week, 4 days ago

Was there any reference or requirement about schools being tied together if they were wanting to change conferences? I recall that was rumored to be a big sticking point in the first and second rounds of conference realignment. Specifically, I think they said that that KU/KState and OU/OK St were tied together and couldn't move without the other, therefore making the package less appealing to the new conference. Obviously that didn't limit OU moving to the SEC, but hopefully KU is not limited in anyway to act in its self-interest if the opportunity presents itself and makes sense to move.

Jeff Coffman 1 week, 4 days ago

Disappointing. If KU can get into another conference they shouldn't need others who are going to leak it to the press to foster a bureaucratic nightmare.

The reason why OU and UCLA were able to successfully move into a conference that increases their pay by more than $30-$50mm/year is because they did it without these regents.

Brett McCabe 1 week, 4 days ago

If it looks like a magat, it's a magat. The hypocrisy.....why waste time....these idiots don't even try and hide it. We only need three people? The same people who picked Major Milktoast over Neeli (now the President at Penn State)?

Man it is so painful to me to watch magats slowly grind away at a great university. Just a reminder to Bernie Babies, and people who used to be normal republicans.......votes matter.

I need something to cheer me up......I think I'll watch some videos of the response on Martha's Vineyard. Some real humanity would be good right now.

Sae Thirtysix 1 week, 4 days ago

. . . meanwhile in the basement McCoob watching video of The Vineyard

Fred Lucky 1 week, 4 days ago

Someone on this string is apparently a very lonely person, holed up in his mother's basement playing a video game with Iowa playing the Sisters of the Poor. Always critical, always spewing comments that only a 10 year old would make. Here's a question - has anyone ever seen him? Makes one wonder.

Brian Skelly 1 week, 4 days ago

The reality is this wouldn't stop a KU move to elsewhere -- say the Big 10 -- if it ever happened.

All that said though, that move isn't happening, unless the Big 10 goes to 30 teams and becomes a league.

There'd be some settlement to be sure -- which is what's going to happen with UCLA at some point -- but don't think for a second a bunch a Wichita and central and western Kansas bureaucrats would stop this.

Dirk Medema 1 week, 4 days ago

Dale - Where do you live? LA area? Maybe that’s why. It wasn’t a topic at all in the Sac area. The move was news for one night and then on to other current events. Or maybe you’re just listening to more of the news programs that need to fill hours of bandwidth. Half an ear to the daily news is all I’m willing to offer. Beyond that it seems like a bunch of pretentious people.

Dennis Mahorney 1 week, 4 days ago

This seems targeted to one college in particular. Two of the three that say that they want the right to keep any college from moving out of it's current conference are K-State graduates. They seem nervous that someone may be leaving, and are acting quickly so they'll have the power to stop them... I wonder what college the K-State gads are so worried about, that they are seeking veto power over...? 🤔🤔🤔

Robert Brock 1 week, 4 days ago

The BOR in California is powerless to block UCLA’s departure from the PAC-Whatever. The Kansas BOR needs to be powerless in that regard too. KU must get out of the Big 12 and join the B1G at its earliest opportunity.

Scott MacWilliams 1 week, 4 days ago

'Scuse me, but why would KU Hoops fans want to leave the Big12? We have been the BEST conference in the country for how many years now?? Texas Tech played in the Final, Baylor & KU both won championships & KU could have won another except for Covid shutdown. That's 4 years in a row that the Big12 was either National Champions or right there. Why the heck would we want to bail on that??

Spencer Goff 1 week, 3 days ago

For the record, I don’t want to leave the Big 12. It’s a great conference. With that said…

This is a stupid, stupid move meant to target only one school. Period.

This reeks of politics and pandering. It is decisions being made as a fan, not as an academic leader.

If Kansas State were to get a Big 10 or SEC invite they should be free to go. I would never support a block. Did any of these politicians question the intent when Wichita State recently changed leagues? Did that require an act of God or a written permission slip? Oh, it didn’t? So tell me then, KBOR, who is this move really aimed at? Fort Hays? Emporia? Cut the crap, stop making decisions like a drunk fan looking for the beer vendor.

If KBOR wanted to put in a competition clause where the leaving team schedules home and homes with the former conference mate for say ten seasons, fine. But a full block is ridiculous and obviously a political move founded on trash pandering. Stop being dumb.

Brad Watson 1 week, 3 days ago

I can't wait to start seeing NIL sponsors/contributors start putting these athletes under contract so they can't for it in the future.

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