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Commish: Big 12 should exist regardless

If there's an exodus of five more Big 12 schools, the five remaining would be wise to remain together, according to a conference commissioner with experience dealing with expansion.

The reason is simple: The five remaining schools -- Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State -- would be due a huge payday and ultimately could salvage automatic berths to the NCAA tournament and possibly the BCS through expansion themselves.

The commissioner, who didn’t want to be identified because he’s involved in the ongoing realignment of college athletics, said it would be critical for the leftover schools to maintain the Big 12 as an entity or corporation.

“The assets, the amount of money that they would be due by exit fees back to the corporation would be huge,’’ said the commissioner. “Rather than dissolve the Big 12, they are better off as a Big 12 entity than moving to the Mountain West.’’

Colorado was the first to bolt the Big 12 last week, becoming the Pac-10’s 11th member. Nebraska followed later in the week to become the Big Ten’s 12th member. Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are all mulling a potential offer to join the Pac-10 to form the Pac-16. A&M is also contemplating applying to become the SEC’s 13th member.

But all of them aren’t ruling out staying in the Big 12 with the aforementioned five schools for a 10-team league. According to industry and network sources, that 10-team league would have more television value then a Pac-11 or Pac-12 (with Utah as the 12th).

Regardless, the commissioner said the most likely remaining Big 12 schools could be due millions from each departing member, depending on how the legal side of each school works out the exit fees. The fee percentages change if the school gives a two-year notice or a one-year notice. Nebraska and Colorado are expected to join their new conferences for the fall of 2011.

NCAA tournament appearance shares are paid going forward but stay with the conference if there is a change of membership. Schools don’t depart with that money, as was the case when three Big East schools left for the ACC several years ago.

Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor have so far appear to be ready to stay together. But that’s still a fluid situation and each member institution will still look for its best alternative if the other five depart -- especially Kansas, which would be the most marketable to a power conference. A Kansas official told ESPN.com it has no plans on going to the Mountain West Conference and men’s basketball coach Bill Self has gone on record that the Jayhawks will be in a BCS conference.

Meanwhile, the commissioner said that new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is taking a gamble if he doesn’t come back with Texas in an expansion model. If Scott is rebuffed by the Longhorns and thus by the rest of the Big 12 South schools and is forced to then just take Utah for the 12th member, it would be a major disappointment.

Industry sources say that a Pac-12 that just adds Colorado and Utah doesn’t increase the value that much for the league in a traditional model of seeking a new television deal. The best-case scenario for the Pac-10 is to come home with Texas, a Pac-16 and a new television network that would rival the Big Ten Network.

By the way, all 31 conference commissioners -- including Scott, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany and the Big 12’s Dan Beebe -- are scheduled to be in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday night for the start of the Collegiate Commissioners Association’s annual meetings. The three-day meetings are sure to be interesting if the conference expansion moves are made mid-week in the middle of the meetings.