There is Plenty on the Agenda for New Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, as He Begins his duty This Month
By KEVIN LONNQUIST
A new era for the Big 12 began this month when Bob Bowlsby officially took over as the seventh commissioner of the conference June 18th.
Bowlsby, who departs his role as Stanford Athletic Director, inherits a conference building with cohesion. The conference’s sustainability is no longer in question. It is now in a position of strength. When the Big 12 announced that it distributed a record $187 million in revenue at its meetings last month, that was a very positive sign. Eight schools received $19 million each.
The losses of Texas A&M and Missouri to the Southeastern Conference have been offset by the additions of TCU and West Virginia. Those two begin their affiliation on July 1.
But the conference was held together by Chuck Neinas. Neinas’ first step last year was to convince the member school presidents to give their grant of rights for the remaining six years. By doing that, it locked everybody into the same room.
One of Bowlsby’s first official acts will be to truly represent the conference next Wednesday when the FBS conference commissioners meet again in Chicago. Bowlsby attended the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City last month.
But he will be a busy man this summer. Following his attendance at the Big 12 meetings in Dallas on July 23, he’ll be on his way to London. He’s a board member of the United States Olympic Committee. The summer games start July 27 and last through Aug. 12.
So here’s a list of issues that Bowlsby will be encountering:
- Finalizing the Television deal
It was learned in May that conference presidents and chancellors verbally agreed to a 13-year, $2.6 billion deal with ESPN and FOX through 2025. With projections around $200 million per year ($20 million per school), all that’s left to do is finalize the language and put it in writing.
It was thought that it would be completed at this time. Two weeks ago, it was hoped it would be done by the end of June. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It is a complicated process and may not be announced until sometime later this summer. But the delay doesn’t mean the deal is in trouble.
2. BCS Playoff
The conference mirrors the SEC’s position in its desire to have the best teams selected to play in the four-team playoff. Bowlsby and the commissioners will meet again Wednesday to see if they can narrow the language and the potentially come up some with a format that all parties value. PAC 12 commissioner Larry Scott has said that they would present options to the Presidents Oversight Committee on June 26. That’s probably not going to happen.
Not to put too much emphasis on Wednesday, but it would be better to know if the Big 12, SEC, Big 10, PAC 12 and ACC could have some unanimity.
Another factor is in this beginning on Sept. 1, ESPN starts a 30-day exclusive negotiating window with the BCS. If no playoff solution is found by then, it may be wise for the BCS to let the window expire and make it a bidding war with potentially all of the networks.
This one is tied to the first two. With the likes of Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame (non-football sports) either inquiring or being speculated as new members, there really needs to be some closure on the new television deal and BCS playoff talks.
Once those are finalized, then Bowlsby and the leadership can likely take a much more serious look at this. Sources close to Florida State say they are waiting to see what takes shape. However, there won’t likely be any movement regarding once the aforementioned are completed.
Texas and Oklahoma have been on record saying they like the fact there is no championship game and the conference membership at 10 is viable. The conference will officially welcome TCU and West Virginia as full members on July 1.
For what it’s worth, the conference’s expansion has not been disbanded and the Big 12 schedule is only made out for the 2012-13 athletic calendar.
On Friday, the NCAA gave Big 12 basketball coaches the go-ahead to make unlimited calls to recruits, who have completed their sophomore year of high school. They can also communicate via text message and through other social media sites including Twitter and FaceBook.
This is the first step toward total deregulation of coaches contacting prospective athletes. Football coaches should have the same opportunity to have such communication freedom by the summer of 2013.