Q&A: Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard Talks Big 12 Expansion

CARROLL, IOWA — During the first stop on the 2016 Tailgate Tour, Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard talked with the media about the future of the Big 12 Conference.

On where the Big 12 sits after spring meetings in Arizona: We’re continuing just to explore. We all want what’s best for the Big 12 in the long run and it’s a very complicated process because there are a lot of tentacles to trying to solve what’s best for the long term. We’ll continue to explore the data and discuss it and ultimately a decision will be made about the short term and the long term.

On Iowa State's position on expansion: We’re pro discussion. You have to look at all of the facts. When you only look at one of the facts that can lead you to think one thing, but then when you add in other facts then you can sway how you think. We’re very open to listening and trying to help guide the conference to what we think is the best long term solution.

On a potential Big 12 television network: It’s one of the factors because it’s a revenue piece, if there’s revenue with it. In order to have a network you have to have a lot of inventory and in order to have a lot of inventory you’d have to presumably expand and then you have to come back. It’s a full circle. You come back and say, ‘Well, is expansion in the best long term interest of the conference?’ It’s more complex than picking two or four or whatever number of schools.

On his stance on a conference network: There are two parts to that question. No. 1, financially, for the last several years a network has been very lucrative to the SEC and to the Big Ten, which is one set of facts. On the other side of it is the current model has been very advantageous to all the 10 members of the Big 12, including Iowa State, because we really like what we’ve been able to brand with Cyclones.tv and I would say that that’s contributed to our rise in attendance and donations and revenues because we’ve been able to do what we need to do which is get exposure in the state of Iowa for those factors. But you have to weigh those factors against what’s the long term best financial interests for the 10 members and the league. If it was a black and white, easy decision, it would have already been made. But it’s not, it’s really complicated. Any one of those tentacles you go down you can get to a different fork in the road.

On a having a Big 12 championship game: Having a championship game, if there’s two divisions, one can argue, and I have in the past, that that gives you something to play for and can make some competitive opportunities and some rivalry opportunities. At the same time, though, you have to look and say, again, is it a 10-team or a 12-team [league] and if it’s a 10-team are you breaking into two divisions? Those are some things that I think will really be discussed here over the next month. If we don’t expand, then we have to answer that question.

On a timeline for an expansion decision: That’ll be a presidential decision, so it’s on the timeline of the presidents. We know the presidents meet this coming month, but it’ll be a presidential decision.

On the takeaway from recent data: The data is always helpful. More data will always be helpful. You always have to be careful with data, because you can make data justify just about any decision you want. For example, at the first spring meetings in May in Phoenix, what everybody latched on to is, ‘The data shows that a championship game gives you a better chance because it’s 66 percent versus 62 percent.’ OK, well, that’s about a five percent increase in total percent. Five percent over 100 years is five times it would matter. So that means in a 10-year span, the life of most football coaches, the life of a television contract, it wouldn’t matter at all because it would happen less than one time in 10 years. So you have to be a little careful with the data that you don’t just take the headline and think that’s an absolute. But the data is usually very helpful to have.

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