Tech, Nine Others Commit To Big 12

After two weeks of rumors, moves and money being thrown around, Texas Tech and nine other schools will remain in a less-crowded Big 12 Conference.

IRVING, Texas — Call it what you will, but the "Big 12 Lite," "Diet Big 12" or "10-team Big 12 Conference" is here to stay, for now.

Texas Tech followed suit on Tuesday, announcing it would remain in the current Big 12 conference with the nine other schools that announced their allegiance on Monday, led by the University of Texas.

"We've been proud members of the Big 12 and we will continue to be proud members," Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance said before the adjournment of Tuesday's Board of Regents meeting. "We look to working through solutions to make it an even better conference for Texas Tech and our fan base."

The new allegiance by the remaining 10 teams after Nebraska and Colorado both announced their future departures in the next two years from the conference comes on the heels of a "promise" that Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe gave regarding the stability of the current Big 12 with the remaining schools and their TV contracts.

Beebe addressed the media from the Big 12 headquarters in Irving on Tuesday and said in his mind the Big 12 "was never close" to falling apart. "We had it all the way. We were down 21-0 in the fourth quarter and we pulled it out. I think there was significant concern about it not working out to where everybody would stay together. Obviously, we lost two valuable members and that was an indication that some decided to look in other places.

"I'm very satisfied in the commitment by the remaining members and the direction that we're going to go. This kind of experience is something that can help solidify the conference for a long, long time."

The chance for any expansion of schools to the Pac-10 Conference died when Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott sent out the following statement: "University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together."

In Powers' words: "We believe this decision is in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches and university constituencies. We are pleased to continue the traditions we have developed with our partners in the Big 12. We are in this 10-team conference for the long-term."

In the end, all of this was about TV contracts and the money, or at least part of it was. The other being the importance of keeping teams in a region to where parents could still see their kids play and long trips to other states would not interfere with classes. The chance that each of the rumored Big 12 schools (Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado) that would have gone to the expanded Pac-10 were going to double their current TV deals was matched with Beebe's promise of a new TV deal in the works with ABC, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Tech athletic director Gerald Myers affirmed that notion with his statement that each of the Big 12 schools would earn $15 to $17 million "on average" over the next few years and that the networks would hold in the current TV deal.

According to the Big 12, each of the conference's 10 schools could increase their per-team revenue to $17 million to $20 million each.

Texas reportedly stands to make the most money (around $25 million) along with Oklahoma and Texas A&M, who could each earn at least $20 million per year.

On the field, it means a change to the schedule at some point. Beebe said he thinks the conference would more than likely move in the direction of each football team playing the other nine schools during the regular season, which in turn means the elimination of the Big 12 Championship game.

A nine-team conference schedule in football in something that had been discussed before, Beebe said, citing difficulties in scheduling more non-conference games and fees Big 12 schools had to pay to get other teams to come to their stadiums.

Beebe touched on the fact that no conference championship game may help two Big 12 teams consistently get into the Bowl Championship Series' four games and better chance of placing one in the national championship. No. 1 Missouri was upended by Oklahoma in 2007, costing them a shot at the national title, as well as No. 1 Kansas State in 1999 (lost to Texas A&M), which directly affects the shared revenue among the schools in the conference.

Now he just needs to figure out what the conference will be called, if any name changes are to be made.

"We'll have to look into that."

Stay tuned for more reaction from Texas Tech.

Travis Cram is the Managing Editor for Follow his hour-by-hour updates and other conference news on Twitter:

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