Oklahoma president David Boren said conference stability “has been our first goal” throughout discussions of realignment and that the Sooners “look forward to achieving that goal through continued membership in the Big 12” rather than relocating to another league.
Boren issued a statement in response to the Pac-12’s announcement Tuesday night that the league would not expand beyond its existing 12 teams, a decision that effectively removed the option of a four-team move toward the West Coast by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. Boren said OU officials “were not surprised” by the Pac-12’s decision and had “decided not to apply for membership this year” before the announcement was made by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
In Scott’s announcement, he said it was in the Pac-12’s “best interests to remain a 12-team conference. While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve.”
The “culture of equality” refers to Pac-12 rules mandating equal TV revenue distributions among league members, a practice that is not the case in the Big 12.
After a Monday meeting of Oklahoma regents, where Boren was empowered to take action on behalf of the school in regard to realignment, Boren identified the Pac-12 and the Big 12 as the Sooners’ options. Texas officials have maintained throughout the realignment process that their primary goal was to preserve the Big 12.
In his statement following the Pac-12’s announcement, Boren said: “We were not surprised by the Pac 12’s decision to not expand at this time. Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress we’ve been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future. Conference stability has been our first goal and we look forward to achieving that goal through continued membership in the Big 12 Conference.”
After Monday’s regents meeting, Boren made it clear that the Sooners had issues with the status quo in the Big 12. He cited a lack of trust and leadership within the league, among other concerns.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, athletic director Joe Castiglione said: “I’m in full support of President Boren’s announced decision for OU to remain in the Big 12. The reforms which he has been discussing with the presidents in the conference are very important to the future stability and strength of the Big 12 Conference.” Football coach Bob Stoops said in a written statement that we was pleased that OU is staying in the Big 12.
In an article posted Tuesday on the website of The Oklahoman, the newspaper reported that the school would consider staying in a “reformed” Big 12 only if the league would increase constraints on the Longhorn Network _ Texas’ 20-year, $300 million venture in partnership with ESPN _ and would remove commissioner Dan Beebe from his post. The report cited an unnamed, high-ranking Big 12 school source as the individual detailing the Sooners’ conditions for remaining in the league.
Texas men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Beebe declined comment in regard to The Oklahoman report. It remains unclear this morning what, if anything, will change internally within the Big 12 as the league moves forward.
The Pac-12 decision means Texas A&M is expected to be the only school to leave the Big 12 after this year. The Aggies have been invited to join the Southeastern Conference for the 2012 football season, contingent upon a waiver of legal claims in regard to the move by Baylor and other Big 12 schools that have yet to agree to the waiver.