Baylor president urges solidarity

Baylor president Ken Starr said he's "cautiously optimistic" that all 12 schools will soon commit to keep the Big 12 Conference intact, but if not, Starr said he wants the Texas schools to stick together.

He said he has no evidence at the moment that the Big 12 schools (primarily Nebraska and Missouri) are ready or willing to commit to stay, but that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, as well as Texas president Bill Powers are working to promote solidarity to save the league.

Starr basically reiterated comments he penned in an opinion piece in Monday's Waco Herald-Tribune when he briefly entertained questions from the media Monday afternoon regarding the swirling conference realignment scenarios that threaten to destroy the Big 12.

"We recognize that the current situation is very fluid, but we are working toward what we firmly believe, that the Big 12 should stick together, that the Lone Star state schools should stick together," Starr said. "We think that is what is in the best interest not only to Baylor, but the entire state of Texas and certainly our own community right here in Waco."

Starr said he believes the Big 12 as currently constituted is doing "extremely well" financially, but is in position to reap larger television revenue in the future to make it more competitive with other major conferences such as the Big Ten and the SEC.

While Starr pounded on the theme of keeping the Big 12 together, it was apparent the larger and more important picture for the Bears is not to be left out of a possible future mega-conference. Several times Starr hit on the economic benefit high-visibility athletics played in the Big 12 brings to Waco and Central Texas.

"Obviously, exposure through television and other media helps promote Baylor University, but it promotes every single university in the conference, obviously strengthening the national reputiation of all of the members of the conference," Starr said. "But, in particular for the state of Texas, the strong associations and rivalries between the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor University, in a very practical sense, is income, is jobs, it helps all of us."

Starr was asked, in the event the Big 12 splits, if Baylor have enough political muscle in the state house to push Baylor along with the other Texas schools. Originally, Colorado and not Baylor was reported to be among Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would receive an invite from the Pac-10.

"That all remains to be seen. I'm not going to speculate," Starr said. "What I do know is members of our board of regents are out there working tirelessly to make Baylor’s case known that there are these great traditions and rivalries among the Texas schools. But, our energies are devoted entirely to keeping the big 12 together."