Texas Tech testifies in first hearing at Texas Legislature regarding UT’s departure from Big 12
AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) - The first meeting of the Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas lasted nearly seven hours Monday as lawmakers from both chambers of the Texas Legislature questioned everyone from an economist to the Big 12 Commissioner, the remaining Texas institutions in the conference and the outgoing University of Texas.
“It represents a major and perpetual blow to the remaining members of the Big 12,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in his opening statement regarding the departure of the University of Texas and Oklahoma University from the Big 12.
The committee was formed last week by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who charged the select group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate to understand the economic and athletic impacts to Texas schools and communities by the departure of the University of Texas from the Big 12.
“With the disruption, the economies of the eight remaining institutions are jeopardized,” Bowlsby said.
Bowlsby spent much of his time testifying leveling accusations against both UT and Oklahoma University.
“Not withstanding the obvious breach of trust, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin have violated the very bylaws they helped to construct,” Bowlsby said.
The President of UT later denied in his testimony that there was a violation of any agreements and committed to honoring any existing ones.
Lubbock Senator Charles Perry said UT and OU bailed in a process he said was not right.
“I think all of us on this panel can agree that at minimum it wasn’t transparent, if not almost under the table and self dealing that we wouldn’t expect from our university systems,” Perry said.
Representative Dustin Burrows expressed concerns about the structure of conferences and membership going forward.
“Are we headed to a super conference structure, a mega conference structure,” Burrows asked in his opening comments. “How will that impact not only the community I represent but the entire state as a whole? How will it impact high school athletics and beyond?”
Texas Tech administrators told the committee Texas Tech would suffer, saying it’s benefited from the Big 12′s camaraderie and bond.
“Being part of a Power Five conference has provided a special opportunity to represent the state of Texas on a national stage,” President Lawrence Schovanec said. “I share the concerns of members of this committee have raised and my colleagues regarding issues when it comes to the recruitment of students.”
TTU Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said Tech would look at every option moving forward.
“While this surprise is a blow, no question about that, I will tell you we will rise to the challenge and continue our journey to be the very best college athletics program in the state of Texas,” Hocutt said.
The Big 12 commissioner said there have been no formal discussions as to how the conference will move forward.
Most testifying Monday expressed a desire for the remaining institutions to stay together.
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