Big 12 with 10 teams faces future without Colorado, Nebraska

Sara Beth Purdy

The world is ending on July 1.

Not really, but the world of college sports will be different. Come July, Colorado and Nebraska will no longer be part of the Big 12 Conference. Colorado is heading to the newly renamed Pac-12, while Nebraska is going to the Big Ten.

Last summer, the Big 12 faced extinction as the powerhouse schools looked for membership elsewhere. Many believed that the end of the Big 12 was inevitable until several schools, including Texas, rejected other offers.

The conference began competition in August of 1996. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor accepted invitations to join the Big 8 in order to escape the downfall of the Southwest Conference, which was in turmoil as Southern Methodist University was handed the NCAA’s death penalty for recruiting violations in 1987. This caused the SWC many financial problems and ruined its reputation.

Since its inception, the Big 12 has remained unchanged in its membership. Even though the Big 12 is technically an extension of the former Big 8, it was begun as a brand new conference void of all Big 8 history.

The new Big 12 has already been to the boardroom to make several financial changes. Starting in 2012, FOX will have second-tier broadcasting rights to all televised conference games.

In addition, 76 percent of the conference’s television revenue from football and basketball games will be split evenly among all the schools. This is up from the previous amount of 56 percent.

“We’re dealing with a lot more revenue, so everybody feels good about the contract and giving us the flexibility and resources to be more competitive,” said Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors at the Big 12 spring meetings.

Other non-financial changes will also take effect this season. The Big 12 will offer championships in rowing and equestrian sports, but Texas will only compete in rowing.

Even though there will be only 10 schools, the Big 12 leadership has decided at this time to keep its name. Commissioner Dan Beebe accredits this decision to national familiarity with the schools involved.

“The Big 12 is the name on the banner under which we have competed, under which we’ve won national championships,” Beebe said at the Big 12 spring meetings.

With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten will also keep its name.

Ironically, on July 1 the Big Ten will have 12 teams and the Big 12 will have 10 teams. It’s odd, but college football will go on.

Printed on 06/30/2011 as: And then there were 10