The Texas Senate has scheduled a hearing on the future of college sports for the state’s Big 12 schools on Monday afternoon.
Representatives from TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas and the Big 12 are expected to speak during the hearing with Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) serving as the chair. The hearing is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. in Austin.
TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor face uncertain futures after UT and Oklahoma announced intentions to join the SEC in 2025. That is a crippling, possibly fatal, blow to the Big 12. UT and OU represented half of the league’s value, according to a source.
Now the communities in Fort Worth, Lubbock and Waco face losing hundreds of millions in economic impact. The Perryman Group evaluated two scenarios in which the Big 12 remains intact without high-profile programs in UT and OU, or if the schools end up in a non-power conference.
The Big 12 staying intact would result in a total annual loss in the three communities of $397.7 million in annual gross product and 5,322 jobs. If teams end up in lesser conferences, the combined loss would be $569.1 million in annual gross product and 7,615 jobs.
The economic impact is expected to be the central talking point, along with whether the three schools should stay together.
Officials from TCU, Tech and Baylor have already discussed coming together as a trio and packaging itself to another power conference such as the Pac-12. TCU, Tech and Baylor may be more attractive together than individually. They would have to sell the Pac-12 or another conference such as the Big Ten on the importance of expanding their respective footprint into Texas.
However, a conference such as the Pac-12 may feel it can accomplish the “Texas footprint” goal by adding only two of the three schools. If that is the case, it may not be possible for all three to stay together.
TCU’s contingent at the hearing will include chancellor Victor Boschini and athletic director Jeremiah Donati; Texas Tech’s president Lawrence Schovanec and AD Kirby Hocutt; Baylor’s president Linda Livingstone and AD Mack Rhoades; and UT president Jay Hartzell. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and retired SMU economics professor Bernard Weinstein are also on the agenda to speak.
Along with Nelson, others on the committee include vice chair Brandon Creighton and members Brian Birdwell, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Bryan Hughes, Lois Kolkhorst, Charles Perry, Beverly Powell, Drew Springer, Larry Taylor and John Whitmire.
The Texas Senate has remained in daily session while the House tries to round up members who left the state in an effort to block GOP voting legislation.
The Senate can conduct hearings such as one on the future of college sports, but can’t take action unless Gov. Greg Abbott, a UT ex, adds the topic to the special session agenda.
It was the Texas Senate that engineered Baylor and Texas Tech moving to the Big 12 along with Texas and A&M when the Southwest Conference broke up in 1996. Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock insisted on including both schools in any move after A&M originally expressed interest in joining the SEC and Texas discussed joining what is now the Pac-12.
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