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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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The Schools’ Plea

  • University presidents and athletic directors from the three remaining Texas Big 12 schools participated in a Texas State Senate hearing Monday.
  • They spent hours airing grievances and asking for help to preserve the Big 12, their Power 5 status, and above all, their cash flow.
Photo: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

University presidents and athletic directors from the three remaining Texas Big 12 schools — Baylor, Texas Christian University, and Texas Tech — all participated at the Texas State Senate Monday.

They spent hours airing grievances and asking for help to preserve the Big 12, their Power 5 status, and above all, their cash flow.

‘Everything’s Better In Power 5’

Representatives from all three universities expressed fears about what would happen if the Big 12 broke up. 

“The state of Texas is better when there is a Big 12 Championship,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said. He also said there was a “general sense” that the eight remaining Big 12 schools would stick together, echoing Bowlsby’s comments.

But in reality, it appeared the schools’ fears were less about a breakup of the Big 12 specifically, and more about losing Power 5 status. While Texas and Oklahoma’s departure won’t directly cause a demotion of the Big 12, a breakup could force schools to non-Power 5 conferences. 

Presidents and athletic directors provided a laundry list of concerns. They agreed athletic departments would lose significant revenue from television, ticketing, and sponsorship and apparel contracts if they lost Power 5 status. Not to mention the recruiting advantage.

And the damage would not be limited to sports. Enrollment of non-athletes could drop, which could negatively affect a school’s bond rating, Baylor President Linda Livingstone said. Even faculty recruitment could become more difficult.

Officials also discussed the potential negative economic impact on local communities. “The prosperity of many Texans is at stake,” Livingstone said.

“Everything is better when you’re in the Power 5,” TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini said, “except parking.” 

Missing the Longhorns

TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech complained that they won’t be in a conference with the University of Texas anymore.

When their schools play the Longhorns in football, their stadiums fill up, officials said. 

And they all get a cut of the media rights revenue that Texas makes. Bowlsby claimed that Texas and Oklahoma together raked in about 50% of the conference’s media dollars.

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