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A Closer Look at Lew Perkin's Take on the Big 12(-2)

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Yesterday Lew Perkins addressed the media regarding the realignment that fell short of the apocalyptic rumors of this time a week ago.  Throughout the week multiple University presidents, athletic directors and coaches from around the Big 12 have done the same. 

One of the more interesting aspects of all this is the fact that the answers, conditions and how the dysfunctional family remained intact seems to vary. With that in mind, lets take a look at the framework Lew Perkins put around the saving of the Big 12 and kick the tires a bit.

Lew Perkins' opening statement:

"We are unbelievably happy that we (all 10 schools) were able to stay together. There is so much value in the fact that all 10 of us are together and there is so much value for college athletics. I don't think a lot of people have concentrated on the fact that what the 10 schools have done and how it is going to affect so many other schools in the country. This, in my opinion, is one of the great things that has happened in intercollegiate athletics. Right now I believe 10 is a great number. I think there are so many things that are still unanswered and we are trying to work through those as quickly as possible. There are a variety of details that need to be worked out. It is basically like starting a new conference, we are beginning and we are going to add on and add on and add on."

Do those involved in the Big 12 really believe 10 is the right number?  Obviously they are going to make that statement based on what transpired, but if it's such a good thing, why is everyone else scrambling to get bigger?

Lew Perkins on Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor agreeing to ‘make whole' Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma as an incentive to remain in the Big 12:

"We (those five members) knew that Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M had been offered opportunities to earn a specific amount of revenue as members of other conferences.  Our Number One Goal was to keep the Big 12 Conference intact, and we began to build a business model to ensure that could happen.  Part of that business model was an incentive to make those three schools whole in relation to what they had been offered by other leagues."

"Each Big 12 school receives revenue distribution from several sources - television, bowl contracts, NCAA Basketball Championship, to name a few.   We know from historical data that revenue streams have grown every year for the past 15 years, and are already contracted to grow in the immediate future.  We also recognize that we have been "splitting the pie" by 12 and will now be ‘splitting the pie' by 10.  This means that all remaining 10 institutions will earn a larger revenue distribution portion."

"The five schools approached the Big 12 Conference Office, offering to assist in assuring the retention of all 10 members of our league.   We indicated that IF NECESSARY we would be willing to contribute a portion of our revenue distribution to ensure that the financial contributions from the Big 12 to those three schools would equal the minimum revenue threshold they would be able to reach in another league." 

"If, for example, in a particular year one of the three schools reaches that threshold, that school would receive no additional money from the other five schools.  If in a particular year one of those three schools does not achieve the minimum revenue threshold, the five schools would contribute an equal amount of revenue to that school to make up the difference."

"Our goal was simple: to create a business model that would keep the Big 12 a strong, viable conference.  We wanted to make sure our league office had all the flexibility necessary to keep our league together in a way that would not impact negatively on our cash flow.  With the current revenue guarantees currently in our conference - and projected television contract ‘upsides' - the five of us do not anticipate this having a negative impact on us....and if it does, it should be minimal."

Sooooo....this is still happening?  This stipulation has been probably the most controversial issue and also the issue that seems to have no answer.  First Dan Beebe indicated this agreement existed.  Then Missouri officials stated they knew nothing of such an agreement.  Follow this by Texas saying they would not want or agree to this type of agreement and now we've come full circle with Lew claiming it is on the table.  Anyone else confused?

On the future name of the Big 12 Conference:

"Probably one of the big questions that I have been asked is, are we the Big 10, the Big 12, the Great Plains and that is a good question. That is certainly something that we will be working on."

Thoughts on the name?  Early indications were that the name would remain.  The Big 12 has a great name in the states most important to the conference, but it is getting a little bit ridiculous to have conferences all over the country with names that vary from the number of teams.

On the issue of money:

"We are working through the numbers right now. It would be a huge mistake for me to start quoting numbers that maybe tomorrow, in six months from now or a year from now wouldn't be accurate. I can deal in concepts and what I see the future is going to be. I want to make sure if I give you a number that it is a correct number and I don't think anybody in our league can give you a correct number right now."

Dan Beebe gave us a number?  I'm starting to get the feeling that the level of communication within the conference isn't at an all time high.  Might this be an indicator as to why it nearly crumbled?

On expansion rumors:

"Nobody is even interested in an expansion right now. There is nobody right now in our conference that has any interest in expansion, we like 10. We like where we are and we like the schools we are with. Through revenue generating it is to all of our advantage to stay at 10 and hopefully we are setting a new model that other people are going to look at and think instead of bigger, maybe smaller."

So five years from are we really expecting the Pac 12 to send Colorado crawling back?

On the work behind the scenes:

"We worked very had behind the scenes to keep this thing together. I think it is like anything else; there can always be disagreements. Even when there were 12 we had disagreements, that's never going to go away because we all have different interests. This is the best thing for all 10 of us and college athletics. I can't speak for anybody else. I can only speak for Kansas and we are elated."

Good.  If this is generally the best option Kansas had, then I'm ecstatic with the result and while I'd like to see some of the details ironed out a little better, at least we aren't in the MWC.

On keeping KU coaches informed:

"Texas is going to be here every year and we are going to be there every year in basketball. I think our basketball program has gotten even stronger or will be stronger. One thing I want to be very clear on is that I have kept all of our coaches in the loop on everything that I possibly could. Every coach is excited about being the Big 12."

There are definitely some big positives to the new alignment for both programs and both coaches truly do seem genuinely enthused by the result.  Not much to say about this quote except...good luck in Allen Fieldhouse Rick Barnes.

On Dan Beebe's and the Big 12's hard work:

"He (Dan Beebe) and his staff did an incredible job. What he and his staff did might have saved inter-collegiate athletics as we see it today. Things could have changed dramatically, and personally, I don't think it would have been in the best interests of the student-athletes."

A week ago he was the most hated man in middle America.  Now Dan Beebe is being touted as a hero.  I'll wait to see what kind of teeth these new commitments really have and if he's actually saved the Big 12, or presented us with a paper tiger.

On Chancellor Gray-Little's impact:

"I would also like to thank the Chancellor (Gray-Little); she was a rock star. She is new and she had somewhat of a learning curve to understand the impact this could have had. I was in total communication with her, probably 10 or 15 times a day. She has a lot of wisdom that I have relied on. Nobody will ever know the impact the KU Alumni Association had on this as well. There was a collective group of people that made this happen for KU."

Color me skeptical.  I'm still not sold on the Chancellor as someone who will help foster further growth in the Kansas athletic program.

On working with Kansas State:

"A lot of people have asked me about the work I have done with John Currie and Kirk Shulz of K-State. One thing I can tell you is if I ever had to go to war I would want those guys beside me. Curry and Shultz were great. Everything we did was step-in-step."

I'll stay clear of this one for now.

On the other nine schools involved:

"I would also like to thank all the athletic directors. If you ever saw a group of 20 people come together it was the 20 athletic directors and chancellors from all 10 schools."

Who knew?  Behind closed doors this was apparently a lovefest.

On the Kansas Board of Regents:

"I would also like to thank the Kansas Board of Regents. They were there for us and understood what the mission was. They were great."

On the role Kansas politician playeds:

"The political people in the state of Kansas were rock stars. Every one of them that I was involved with and talked to were great. They did great things for the citizens of the state of Kansas."

On the impact this has on KU student-athletes:

"The coaches and student-athletes were very supportive, and this was all about our student-athletes. All the work that was put into this was for our coaches and student-athletes. A lot of people don't know what a lot of great people did."

I do think the day to day student athlete does come out a winner in this one.  Kansas will be getting a bigger piece of the pie which will help further support the athletic initiatives.  The Conference maintains a reasonable geographic footprint and Kansas athletes are competing at the highest level.  Ultimately those are all wins and that's what we all want.