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Self thinks Big 12 on solid ground

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 3:25 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 7:14 p.m.

— As college conferences continue to grow — and the Big 12 stands pat at 10 members — Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was asked Wednesday about the future and size of the conference.

“It’s amazing to me,” Self said, “the movement that potentially could occur in the next … immediate future.”

The latest round of conference realignment sent rumblings throughout the college sports landscape on Wednesday, as Louisville reportedly prepared for a move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The move came just more than a week after Maryland and Rutgers announced that they would be heading to the Big Ten Conference.

Self said he had not spoken with Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger or taken part in any discussions, but he said the latest round of realignment does raise some interesting questions.

“Are we gonna stay at 10, which is the perfect number,” Self said, “but going forward is that really reasonable to be at 10?

“The SEC is gonna poach somebody now; they’re gonna have 16. The ACC’s gonna have 16. But the SEC may poach the ACC, so now that’s gonna screw that number up. So where are we with the stuff?”

Earlier this fall, the Big 12 announced a $2.6 billion television contract with ESPN and Fox Sports that included a 13-year grant of rights. The schools, in essence, would have to pay back 13 years of television rights to the conference if they left, adding a measure of stability to the once-floundering league.

Even amidst the moves and speculation, Big 12 officials and administrators have expressed confidence in the 10-team structure.

Self did the same on Wednesday, mentioning new television contract and Sugar Bowl agreement between the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference. That game, which ESPN has the rights to for 12 years and will reportedly pay $80 million to the leagues, and TV rights for the four-team college football playoff starting in 2014 could increase each Big 12 team’s annual share of conference-generated revenue to $30 million.

“The thing that amazes me,” Self said, “I don’t know if we could be on more solid footing right now. With the situation with the SEC and the Big 12 in football, and the alliance, and those sorts of things — the new television deal.

“We are in great shape. I don’t feel like there’s any need to rush to do anything. But I do think there should be talks in case, a contingency plan.”

Check Rustin Dodd’s Jayhawk Dispatch blog at blogs.kansas.com/jayhawks. Reach him at rdodd@wichitaeagle.com.

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