Holder: Big 12 Is A Win-Win For Everyone

Mike Holder believes that the Big 12 staying intact is a win-win for Oklahoma State's coaches, players and fans when he spoke publicly Tuesday afternoon for the first time since five of the conference schools had been invited to join the Pac-10. Here is Holder's opening statement and then some questions and the OSU athletic director's answers from Tuesday's news conference.

Opening statement
"It's a beautiful day. It was pretty stormy yesterday and not a lot of fun. We had a lot of rain in Oklahoma City and we had about 4 or 5 inches here in Stillwater. That's life in Oklahoma. Like Will Rogers said, if you don't like the weather just wait a minute because it's likely to change. So here we are with a beautiful, sunshiny day and prospects for a bright future for Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the Big 12 Conference.

"I couldn't be happier about that. I think the agreement that was reached, and the consensus for all the schools that are left in the conference to stick together, and we're looking forward to the future. I think it's a win for our fans, I think that's a win for our coaches, I think that's a win for all of our athletes.

"Because of the geographical location of all the institutions involved, every school is within driving distance of the others, longtime friendships, longtime rivalries, and I think that's what makes college athletics special. So I'm glad that we can continue that and not turn our backs on in some cases over 70 or 80 years of tradition.

"I appreciate our friendship with the University of Texas, and especially the University of Oklahoma. I think it was very clearly stated by (OU president) David Boren and (OU athletic director) Joe Castiglione that wherever Oklahoma went, Oklahoma State was going to be right there with them, and we have the exact feeling about them. I think this process has brought both institutions closer together, and I really, really appreciate their friendship.

"The other thing that's going to happen in the future is the possibility of scheduling that we like, one thing that our head football coach Mike Gundy has kind of stumped for, and I'm a big believer in, is playing all the conference teams (in football each season). I think that's a good possibility since we only have nine (other) members in the conference now. If we can play every one of those institutions every year in football, and play them twice in men's and women's basketball. We've got a tradition of excellence here in the Big 12 where there's an opportunity for dreams to come true and play for national championships. We've done it in about every sport.

Did Oklahoma State ever receive an invitation to join the Pac-10?
Holder: Yes, it was unique in that it was an invitation that was contingent on all five members accepting, and if any one opted out then that wasn't to say they couldn't issue an invitation for two or three (schools) but that would involve some sort of process and they would have to go back (to the Pac-10 presidents) and get approval for it. They wanted all five schools.

Was it given serious consideration?
Holder: I thought it was a great option. It was flattering to be given an opportunity to join a conference as prestigious as the Pac-10 with some of the outstanding athletic and academic institutions in our country. It was from a different part of the United States, and there were opportunities to travel, so you have to be intrigued by that. I think at the end of the day, I think all the athletic directors said they wanted to remain and that their first priority was to try to keep the Big 12 Conference intact.

Will the revenue sharing model stay the same as it has been in the past for the Big 12 members?
Holder: The revenue sharing model will remain the same. It's kind of a unique model. You take the television money with half of it going into one bucket and that money is split up evenly among all the schools, and the other half of the television money is doled out by television appearances (per team). You get more money for a network appearance, and I believe last year it was $360,000 for being on the network, and I believe it was around $160,000 for being on cable (television). The more times you're on television, the more money you're going to get paid. The great thing about that is if you bring value to the conference and are attractive to the decision makers in New York City who decide who's going to be on television, then your school is going to make more money. It's not the conference office or anyone in the conference office discriminating against any particular institution, it's based on how attractive your football team is basically. When I became athletic director in 2005, I believe that Oklahoma State was ranked last in revenue distribution that year. Last year, and this is off the top of my head, the conference distributed $139 million (to its members). I believe that Texas got $15.5 million. I believe Nebraska was next at around $12.8 million. The University of Oklahoma was third at $12.7 million, and Oklahoma State was fourth at $12.4 million. We've come a long way, and I like that. I think that's a testimony to the great job that Mike Gundy has done with our football program, and the fact that we were on television a lot last year, more times than any other time in our history.

Is there a possibility that the new Big 12 Conference could put together its own television network or could Oklahoma State put together its own television network?
Holder: We looked at the possibilities of having a network but the numbers just aren't compelling. It just doesn't look like it would be a revenue generator for us. It would be a capital loss. You have to put it in perspective, if you're Oklahoma State or Oklahoma or Texas or Texas A&M, you have a reputation that is very important to you -- you have a brand. If you put together a network it's important that it be done right, first class. Unfortunately the cost of setting up an individual network would be exactly the same to set up a conference network. When you're talking about an individual university, your market is significantly smaller. Even if you're the University of Texas and there are a lot of people nationwide who follow that particular brand, it's still tough to make a go of it. If you're Oklahoma State with a smaller enrollment, a smaller population base in the state, no major metropolitan areas, it's going to be much more difficult to make a go of it.

Was there a particular moment in the last week that you believed you were heading to the Pac-10 Conference?
Holder: I don't think there was any one moment in time where I thought we were going to go one way or the other. I was pulled basically every day, like whiplash, back and forth. One minute you think you're going to the West Coast and the next minute you think you're staying at home. There were times where you thought you were going in a different direction and kind of looked behind you and thought about all the good reasons to stay, and reasons to go. Up until Texas made that decision to stay, which basically nullified the agreement we had (with the Pac-10), I realized it was time to make a decision whether we wanted to go.

Do you see the conference attempting to add more teams, or do you believe staying with 10 teams is best?
Holder: Just my opinion, I'm very, very comfortable with 10, and that would be my preference. I really don't see anyone in this area that would add about $15 million worth of value to the table. Otherwise, you're going to take away revenue from the other 10 schools, and they'd have to take a revenue cut to allow them to come into the conference. I think it would complicate matters if you had 11 seasons because then you'd have 10 conference (football) games, and you'd only get two nonconference games. I think a lot of people like to see those nonconference games, that way you can see teams outside of your conference that you don't see on a regular basis. So, I think 10 is a good number. I really think it gives our conference champion a better chance to advance to the BCS championship game. I think you can say we've been advantaged by the Big 12 Championship game a few times, and there's been a few times that it's been a disadvantage. It's one less game that you have to play, and I think that's better for the athletes. I've been a proponent of not playing the championship game since I became athletic director here. The time that you do something strictly for money, and when I look at the championship game that looks like the primary reason for having it, that's probably not the best reason to do something. So I think we're better off with the conference with the opportunity to play nine conference games without a championship game. Now I'm just one voice, and it will be the majority of the conference that makes that decision.

What message do you have to the Oklahoma State fans who are disappointed that the move to the Pac-10 did not materialize?
Holder: I think at the end of the day when they step back I think those guys wanted the opportunity to go to Burbank, but every team that we play now in the conference is within driving distance. I think that's attractive. I just feel like the travel for our fans, coaches and athletes is much better given the model that we've got right now.

You said the offer from the Pac-10 was contingent on the other schools agreeing to make the move, correct?
Holder: We had an offer and the offer was based on everyone agreeing to move. I don't think Texas was going anywhere without Oklahoma, and Oklahoma wasn't going anywhere without Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma State wasn't going anywhere without those schools because who wants to be the orphan? If one school made the move to the Pac-10, this is a long way and if you're the lone stranger out here in the middle of the United States and all your competitors in your conference are on the West Coast, it's not once or twice a year that you're going to make that road trip, it's five or six times a year in football. That's one of the reasons that the plan came together as it did. You want to have some people to play in your natural area then maybe go to the West Coast, but you don't want to make those trips on a regular basis, especially in basketball.

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