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BU: Loss of ‘power 5′ status could have devastating effects on local economy

Baylor University’s president, athletic director speak before Texas Senate committee on future of college sports in state
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) - Texas state senators held a hearing Monday afternoon to the discuss the future of college sports in the Lone Star State after the University of Texas and Oklahoma University shook up the Big 12 Conference by announcing plans to join the SEC in 2025.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the committee he was unaware of any efforts by Texas and Oklahoma to leave for the SEC.

“It represents a major and perpetual blow to the remaining members of the Big 12,” said Bowlsby.

He said that up to 50 percent of the Big 12 TV value could be embedded in Texas and OU. According to him, the television revenue per school is 28 million annually, it’s estimated to drop to 14 million with Texas and OU’s departure. Up to 50% of the Big 12 TV value could be embedded in Texas and OU.

Bowlsby believes the remaining eight members wish to stick together at this time. Other options as far as adding members, or merging with other conferences are being explored.

Presidents of Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU, as well as the President of the University of Texas also testified.

Baylor president Linda Livingstone said that success in academics and athletics are intricately intertwined at top universities. She also recognized the economic impact of being in a power five conference. “The prosperity of many Texans is at stake,” said Livingstone.

Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades also testified, bringing two requests two the committee.

“My first request is very simply that each of you truly understand the ramifications of this move of Texas from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference,” said Rhoades.

He added, “my second ask is that each of you commit time, resources, and effort to preserving and strengthening the Big 12. Texas is our nation’s greatest state.”

Rhoades was asked about the new basketball arena at Baylor. He said d the events of the last two weeks puts into question whether they’ll have the ability to pursue new capital projects, like the new $125 million basketball arena.

Texas president Jay Hartzell was asked when was the first contact by the SEC to Texas.

“We reached out to the SEC this spring,” Hartzell said.

Livingstone released the following statement:

“The beginning of August marks the return of many of our student-athletes in preparation for their upcoming fall seasons and the fall semester. Unfortunately, the winds of conference realignment have taken the spotlight away from these incredible Baylor student-athletes, but I could not be more excited to see our football, soccer and volleyball teams fling their green and gold in just a few short weeks. Earlier today, Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV and I traveled to Austin to testify in front of a Select Senate Committee looking into the Future of College Sports in Texas, following the pledged departure of the University of Texas from the Big 12 Conference in 2025. We were joined by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, our colleagues from Texas Tech and TCU, and UT President Jay Hartzell.

“My message to the committee was three-fold:

“It is imperative that Texas maintain its nation-leading five Power 5 schools, not only for athletics purposes, but for the prestige, academic partnerships and financial benefits such status brings to our universities;

“Losing Power 5 status would have devastating financial implications for Waco, Lubbock and Fort Worth – in excess of $569.1 million in annual gross product and 7,615 jobs, according to a report from the Perryman Group – and a state institution should not be able to inflict such harm on Texas taxpayers and communities;

“As institutions of higher education, we uphold a sacred trust with our constituents, and we must be held to a higher standard. We must compete with integrity, respect for our colleagues, and with openness and transparency. Mr. Rhoades reinforced that any economic upside to UT’s move to the SEC will be felt outside of the state of Texas in neighboring places such as Fayetteville, Arkansas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and distant ones such as Columbia, South Carolina. The Big 12 calls Texas home, with the conference office based in Irving, and hosts the Big 12 Football Championship annually in Arlington at AT&T Stadium and has the DFW Metroplex in regular rotation to host the NCAA Final Four – both huge economic drivers and important points of pride for our state. The bottom line is that a strong Big 12 Conference is good for the state of Texas. And I know our colleagues at Texas Tech and TCU feel the same way. With the commitment of Texas and the University of Oklahoma to stay in the Big 12 until 2025, that will allow the eight remaining conference members time to work strategically and thoughtfully as we chart our shared future. As such, we anticipate the “conference carousel” to slow in the days and weeks ahead.

“Mr. Rhoades and I appreciated the opportunity provided by Governor Abbott last Tuesday to discuss with him the current athletic conference landscape and his willingness to assist the Big 12 and its Texas-based members as we move forward. We also send our sincerest thanks to the “Baylor delegation” – members of the Texas Legislature and other state officials who have ties to our University and have tirelessly advocated on our behalf over the past few weeks. We understand that change and uncertainty are upon everyone involved with intercollegiate athletics. You can be assured Baylor and her leadership are proactively and aggressively engaged in best positioning the University for the future, both athletically and academically. We have a great story to tell.

“While media speculation and rumors continue to run rampant – and can certainly be entertaining – we pledge to keep you, as the Baylor Family, informed as specific developments warrant. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support of our great University.”

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