AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas Senate select committee held a hearing Monday regarding the future of college sports in the Lone Star State. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke, along with leaders from Baylor University, Texas Tech University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas.
Bowlsby said he was completely shocked when UT and the University of Oklahoma announced their intentions to leave the Big 12. He said it was in direct violation of the conference's bylaws, stating that within 12 hours of speaking to the SEC, he should have been notified.
He said the conference is mulling its options for the future.
“The board hasn’t even made the decision that it wants to take members, there may be other options available to us and I think sequentially it makes sense to pursue those before thinking about individual membership.”
Now, he said that the conference's television revenue could decrease by 50% when UT and OU leave. This leaves Athletic Director Mack Rhoades and Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone in a jam.
The athletics department was planning on building a brand-new basketball pavilion on Baylor's campus, but Rhoades said that project will likely need to be paused as they face the threat of no longer being in a Power 5 conference if the Big 12 dissolves.
He said keeping the remaining Texas schools together is in the best interest of the conference.
"I'm certainly focused primarily on the three that there isn't so to speak a demotion," he said.
Rhoades said that Baylor athletics currently operates at 48% of that of Texas and still competes. He said they can’t compete if they aren’t in a Power Five conference.
The Big 12 interviewed eight candidates a few years ago when they pondered expansion, but ultimately decided they would not expand. Bowlsby said he's glad that these schools have already gone through that process, even though he's unsure that's the decision they'll make.
Livingstone said that if Baylor and the Big 12 want to bring in the same kind of money, they'll have to replace the two schools with similar fits.
"If you’re going to keep the conference intact at that level of revenue, you have to replace them with that level of brand," she said. "Which means you’ll have to draw someone from another Power 5 conference which is quite challenging.”
Bowlsby said that no conversations have been discussed between he and other member leaders about who might be on the table if they look to add teams and that there is no current timetable either.