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May 11, 2009, 2:49 PM
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Longhorns Leaving Big XII for Greener Pastures
May 8, 2009 CBSSports.com wire reports
GREENSBORO -- Less than a week after the Big XII coaches rejected a proposal to change the controversial tiebreaker that gave the Oklahoma Sooners last season’s Big XII South title over the Texas Longhorns, a team who soundly beat the Sooners earlier in the season, CBS Sports has learned the Longhorns are in negotiations to leave the Big XII and join the Atlantic Coast Conference. The surprise announcement could come as early as next week.
According to a source within CBS Sports partner conference, the ACC, Texas Athletic Director, Deloss Dodds and members of his staff flew to ACC headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina late last week to meet with ACC Commissioner, John Swofford, in anticipation of the Big XII’s stunning tiebreaker decision just two days ago.
According to Big XII and ACC bylaws, leaving the Big XII for the ACC is expected to cost the Longhorns in excess of $5 million, and would require a qualifying vote of both the ACC member schools as well as the Texas legislature. However, those steps are seen as a mere formality due to the resulting financial windfall for all involved.
In walking away from the Big XII, Texas is leaving behind a conference that has struggled to gain traction in the years since its inception. Former football power, Nebraska, has been mired in mediocrity, with no team stepping up to fill the void in the talent poor Big XII North. For the past decade, the conference has been propped up solely by Texas and Oklahoma’s annual inclusion in the National Championship hunt, with sporadic appearances in the BCS top 25 by Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma State. In basketball, despite powerhouses Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas providing plenty of top 15 rankings, the Big XII has languished behind more notable basketball conferences, the Big East and the ACC in both post season performance and reputation.
The ACC, which is celebrating its 55th year of existence today, is seemingly aglow at the prospect of adding Texas and its rich tradition. In landing the Longhorns, the ACC not only adds an annual National Championship frontrunner to the fold, something they have sorely lacked for the latter half of this decade, but they also add an impressive TV market to their stable as well. Currently ranking a second in conference viewership behind the SEC, the addition of the Texas TV market is almost certain to make them the runaway leader in that field. According to the Media Information Center, the Texas Longhorns own the largest TV market in the country, nearly 30% larger than the second ranked school, the University of Southern California.
Bringing Texas into the conference would almost assuredly allow the ACC to immediately rework their TV deal with Fox, which doesn’t expire until 2012, and could result in the largest TV payout in NCAA history. The Longhorns, despite the $5 million cost of making the switch, stand to increase their annual media revenue by nearly 60%.
Long rumored to be interested in adding a 13th and 14th team since the admission of Boston College as the 12th and final member in 2004, the ACC has been unable to identify any willing institutions that met the conference’s standards of academic excellence in addition to athletic prowess. In the Longhorns, the ACC would gain one of the most respected public universities in the country, and a regular member of national undergraduate and graduate program rankings.
Though still yet to be determined, sources say the ACC is strongly considering identifying and adding the 14th and final member this summer. Any team added however, including Texas, would realistically have to wait until the 2010 or 2011 season to commence participation in ACC conference play for any NCAA sport. The front runners for the 14th spot are expected to be Texas A&M, a fellow Big XII member school with strong academics and a solid athletic track record, and Big East member, the University of Connecticut, whose upstart football program and championship winning basketball programs make it a logical fit. However, conference officials might instead attempt to lure Notre Dame into the fold, though the prospects of their joining the ACC appear slim.
If both Texas and Texas A&M leave the Big XII for the ACC, the domino effect would almost certainly result in the collapse of the Big XII as we know it. The resulting effect could possibly see the SEC add Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, with Missouri going to the Big Ten and Colorado joining the Pac-10, along with long rumored addition, Hawaii. The remaining 6 Big XII teams ? Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Iowa State would likely split up and join the Mountain West and Big East conferences or cherry pick 6 to 8 additional teams from the Mountain West, Conference USA, Western Athletic Conference and Big East in an effort to remain a BCS member conference.
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