Big 12 Leftovers Wheeled, Dealed to Save League

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    The schools in danger of being left behind drafted a plan to keep UT, A&M and OU in the fold.

    Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins said Wednesday that the five Big 12 schools in danger of being left without a conference came up with a plan that included offering money to keep Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma in the league.

    Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri drafted a "business plan" to persuade the bigger schools to reject any interest from the Pac-10 or Southeastern Conference, Perkins said. The idea was to make sure the three Big 12 South schools would not lose any money by sticking with the Big 12.

    "Five schools got together and we tried to develop a business plan like everything else," said Perkins, who did not disclose financial details of the offer. He said paying to remain aligned with Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M is no different from a school giving a pay raise to a coach who wins a national championship and gets other job offers.

    Perkins and Kansas State athletics director John Currie both said they don't expect the three big schools to need the money because league revenues are expected to grow in coming years.

    Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe indicated on Tuesday that the five schools had offered to give Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma their share of whatever exit penalty money Colorado and Nebraska wind up paying for leaving the league over the next two years.

    But Perkins said the five offered to take the money out of their share of conference revenues from other sources such as television and NCAA basketball, not the penalty money. Calls to the Big 12 offices in Dallas were not immediately returned Wednesday.

    Nebraska, which will join the Big Ten in July 2011, said it does not believe it owes any penalty money.

    "The bylaw is structured as 'damages' and it's hard for me to see that there are any damages," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "The Big 12 is getting more now than they did when we were a member."

    Perlman wouldn't discuss how much the penalty might be, saying "the distribution is around $9 million so you can figure it out." Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said the school's penalty for bolting to the Pac-10 in July 2012 "could be" around $9 million.

    Under Big 12 bylaws, schools must give up 50 percent of their share of conference revenues if they give two years' notice, as Colorado has done, or 70 percent of the revenue if the notice is less than 18 months before departure, which apparently would apply to Nebraska.

    According IRS tax records examined by The Associated Press, the Big 12 in 2008-09 distributed $10.1 million to Colorado and $11.5 million to Nebraska. Using those figures, the overall penalty for Colorado over two years would be $10.1 million and $8.05 million for Nebraska over the next year.

    Divided up among the remaining 10 members, each would get about $1.8 million.

    Perkins insisted on referring to penalty money that may be paid by Colorado and Nebraska as "damages," rebuking reporters during a news conference for calling it anything else.

    "Just take the liquidating damages and put an `X' on it," he said. "Put it over here and don't even think about it. ... We're not going to touch that money."

    Currie declined to discuss the details of the smaller schools' guarantee, but said it was the "right long-term move."

    "We knew that because of the projections and analysis of the marketplace, we knew that we were in an excellent position as a league to continue to grow, to grow our pie," he said. "The big picture is what we're focused on right now, which is the fact that our pie will grow, and we have two less mouths to feed around the table at dinnertime from now on."

    Once Colorado and Nebraska decided to leave, there was a possibility that the Big 12 might dissolve because the Pac-10 was courting Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech would probably also have come along. Had they gone, it would have created a crisis for the other five and left them scrambling to find a major conference.

    But the league held together at 10 members when Texas turned down the Pac-10 and everyone else fell into line, lured with the promise of much richer football television contracts and the promise that Texas and Oklahoma, at least, can start their own TV networks without sharing with other members.

    The talk of concessions didn't bother Kevin Capper, a barber whose shop is near the Kansas State campus. He said Kansas State is better off in the Big 12, "even with Texas getting the better end of the deal."

    "We're going to benefit more from them being in the conference," he said. "How can you fight with that? I guess you can argue it wasn't fair and equal, but what is?"

    Dan Lykins, a Topeka attorney who serves on the Kansas Board of Regents and has missed only one Kansas State football game since 1986, said Kansas officials understood their schools didn't have as much power in the conference as Texas.

    "It really doesn't bother me because KU and K-State will end up getting more money," he said. "One of the most powerful schools in our country is staying in our conference."

    AP sports writers Eric Olson in Omaha, Neb., and Pat Graham in Denver and Associated Press writer John Hanna in Manhattan, Kan., contributed to this report.


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