The first day of the Big 12 meetings contained a lot of business, a lot of review, and not much of the sexy subject of a Big 12 Network versus a Longhorn Network, expansion and expansion candidates, and the thought of a larger league holding a conference football championship game.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met with a rather large contingent of media covering the Big 12 meetings with the thought that something critical might happen. Today's major topics were the reduction of concussions among Big 12 football student-athletes which is a good thing.
The major event was the vote on a proposed rule that would eliminate the extra year of reduced eligibility for any walk-on student athlete that transfers within the conference. This proposed rule has become known as the "Baker Mayfield Rule" for the OU quarterback who transferred from Texas Tech, and OU was the sponsoring school for the new legislation.
The rule was discussed by the athletic directors and the school faculty representatives and then voted on by the faculty reps where it was a 5-5 draw and failed. There was no announcement of which schools voted which way, but for sure Oklahoma voted for it and Texas Tech, Mayfield's original school, voted against it.
"I think there was some apprehension of any walk-on at any one of our schools being recruited to another school by an offer of scholarship and whether that is what we want to do," Bowlsby told the media. "All of our programs have walk-ons and many of them have several walk-ons but those processes take place in and between players and there is no formal process for it. I think we need to be careful about unintended consequences.
"I wasn't in the room when the vote was taken, but I was in the room when the AD's and the faculty reps considered the matter. There were very good points made on both sides of it. It is important that we consider the matter not in light of one student-athlete but more for what is the best rule going forward and if we do the latter then we'll take care of the former."
Both Bowlsby and Zenger felt there were no hard feelings as a result of the vote and they encouraged the media to speak with Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione on the issue.
Bowlsby was very proud of the concussion news and emphasized that the Big 12 went beyond the NCAA policy of contact on three days a week in football with two days of practice and one game day to just one day of contact in practice and then the contact on game day.
"We did something intentionally to drive down concussive head injuries and it has been tremendously successful," added Bowlsby.
As for expansion, Bowlsby and Zenger both said it was not a topic on day one with more house cleaning issues and the vote on the transfer rule taking up time. Bowlsby said that the revenue coming from the conference back to the schools would not be announced today but later in the week after the executive board (school CEOs) met. Bowlsby said it would be good news. The fear is that the gap financially between the Big 12 and the SEC and Big Ten is getting wider.
Bowlsby was asked what is pushing the meter of the Big 12 members and he gave a really good answer.
"It's the decision of the chancellors and the presidents at the end and this really is their decision and once they go back to their campuses they are each going to take their own process and that may be very inclusive and it may not be very inclusive," explained Bowlsby. "Sometime later in the summer I would think we will get together and come to some decision. I'm going to push for decisions to be made by the end of the summer.
"You talk to some of our ADs and Presidents and they would say league stability is number one, others would say revenue generation is number one, others would say accessing the CFP and other NCAA championship level activities would be 1A an 1B, and I think others would say aggregation of our third tier (television) rights would be really important and we need to move as quickly as we can to some form of shared venture," Bowlsby detailed. "It depends on who you ask which analytic is really valuable to them. There's a lot of different ways for this to fit together and I expect our consultants (over the next two days) to show us maybe 10 different ways for this to fit together."
Consultants and analytics will fill up a lot of the next two days.
Bowlsby was asked about Baylor and really stayed cursory with his response and made it clear that the Big 12 has no intent nor has any forum of which to punish or criticize Baylor. He did say it was a black eye for the conference but that the other member institutions are running programs in a virtuous way. He also said with interim President Dr. David Garland that Baylor was able to fully participate and contribute to the Big 12 meetings.