David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma, said this week that he believes the Big 12 Conference will remain as it is now. The comments come amidst conversation and speculation that Missouri or even Texas could become a member of the Big Ten conference should the league expand and extend an invitation.
“We’re very happy with the Big 12 Conference and we certainly expect to stay in the Big 12 Conference,” Boren remarked of the issue. “I was sort of shocked to read speculation that OU might leave the Big 12 Conference. Certainly not.
“And I really think that the likelihood of any of the schools leaving the conference is really being blown out of proportion. I think the conference will stay intact.”
Boren also said that the conference is looking into how to increase revenue stream to that of their counterparts in the southeastern Conference as well as in the Big 10. Both of those conferences are the recipients of high payouts, with large television deals, including the emergence of the Big 10 network.
In total, over $22 million more annually is distributed between the Big 10 and SEC than the Big 12.
“Certainly I think when you look at where we’ve been, the revenue growth of the member schools in the Big 12 has been quite significant,” Boren stated. “I really think that if any member decided to leave, they would regret it later on. Financial considerations are not the only considerations.”
The Big 12 is currently in a contract with ABC and ESPN that will go through the 2016 college football season. The SEC just recently came to a 15-year agreement with CBS and ESPN.
“Some of the other leagues haven’t been at the table to finalize their negotiations yet. So, currently, there is a wider gap,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione remarked. “But once the television negotiations take place, that gap will narrow some.”
Both president and athletic director stand firmly behind the current Big 12, but understand that a change in the future could in fact be possible.
“It requires the league to think about the way the landscape of college athletics could change, have some contingency plans in place — many or all of which may not ever be used,” Castiglione stated. “But it would be foolish of us to not be proactive, even though we’re really focusing on how we make what we have better.”
“If we happen to lose one member or two members — and I doubt that will happen, but if it did — there are some very strong programs that would be standing in the wings hoping to join the Big 12,” Boren remarked.
Online Sportsbooks believe Oklahoma to be a contender for the 2010-11 BCS National Championship, going off at 16/1.