Longhorn Network Only Part Of UT’s Decision To Stick With Big 12

UT president Bill Powers, womens athletic director Chris Plonsky, and mens athletic director DeLoss Dodds hosted a press conference this morning where they reaffirmed the University’s “unequivocal long-term commitment to the Big 12.”

Powers commented on the difficulty of carrying out negotiations in public, but said they worked hard to keep the decision-making process transparent among board members and other Big 12 schools.

Dodds joked that he could call someone in Houston and then call someone else in Dallas 15 minutes later and they would already know the information.

The media, alumni, and fans were all rightfully interested in the future (or not) of the Big 12. Even Texas Excess posted reports that the Big 12 was likely dead and then, oh wait, the Big 12 will likely be salvaged. Today, we’re here to say (via President Powers) that the Big 12 is here to stay.

“It’s our view that it’s in our strong — economic and traditional and looking out for our student athletes — our strong interest to remain with the 10-team Big 12,” Powers said at the press conference.

While the University’s option to develop its own television network was at the forefront of rumors about whether we’d stay or go, Powers says that was only one issue in the discussions. The economics, our successful history with conference, our traditional rivalries, and the potential effects on the University’s student athletes all played a role in the decision.

“There was no one tipping point, but travel and the goal of advancing the student athletes (academically) was at the top of list,” he said.

But let’s not be remiss. The option to develop the Longhorn network was a major selling point, with neither the Pac-10 or the Big 10 allowing its member schools to have their own network like the Big 12 does.

Powers said the network would be beneficial not only to UT athletics but to the entire campus. While the focus would be on broadcasting games, there would be opportunities to showcase other talents on campus, for instance concerts by School of Music groups. And with alumni spread out across the country and world, Powers sees it as a positive outlet for creative outreach.

In the Big 12’s new 10-team configuration, there will likely be just one division. Dodds said that though that’s yet to be determined, we would support playing all nine teams in football with no conference-championship game. He still sees the Big 12 sending at least two football teams to BCS games each season.

And despite rumors of this team bailing and that team getting left behind, Dodds says all is well in the Big 12 family. “We live in athletics. We beat each other up on Saturdays and hug each other on Sundays,” he said. “This is competition. We’ve been good at that and we’re good about being friends when it’s over.”

We’re even happy to still have those Aggies around (even if they thought about “seceding“). Powers says the University made its decision to stick with the Big 12 conference while A&M was still on the fence but “we are delighted that Texas A&M and The University of Texas will be in the same conference.” 

Now, since the Big 12 isn’t 12 anymore, can we still call it the Big 12?

“Some have talked about the Conference Formerly Known As The Big 12,” Powers joked.

Dodds quipped back, “We’re looking for leadership from the Big 10 on that.”



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