The presidents of Big Eight Conference universities gave their official approval today to talks that could lead “to a cooperation” with the Southwest Conference.
Jon Wefald of Kansas State, chairman of the Assn. of Big Eight Universities, said nothing specific was set and the presidents talked only in generalities during four hours of meetings Wednesday.
“We are interested in finding out what we can do together to explore the possibility of cooperation between our conferences,” Wefald said. “How we can pool our resources--how we can cooperate in academic areas as well as athletic areas.”
Haskell Monroe, chancellor of the University of Missouri, said, “We’re interested in talking with them to see if we might go to the dance together.”
There has been speculation that the two conferences might create a basketball tournament, schedule events in non-revenue sports, such as track and swimming, and set up a television arrangement for Big Eight-SWC football games. The presidents said they did not discuss specific details of the cooperation or revenue distribution within the Big Eight.
The presidents insisted that they are not planning to preempt their athletic officials in the discussions.
“We take special pride in the values and leadership offered by our faculty representatives and athletic directors,” the presidents said in their statement.
Faculty representatives and athletic directors discussed revenue distribution Wednesday in Kansas City.
“Very congenial,” was the way Nebraska’s Bob Devaney characterized the six-hour conference. “I think the conference is a pretty good conference myself.”
Wefald said he hoped Big Eight Commissioner Carl James could meet with his Southwest Conference counterpart, Fred Jacoby, within a month to discuss “items of mutual interest.”
The Southwest Conference initiated contact with the Big Eight last month after Arkansas announced that it was leaving the Southwest to join the Southeastern Conference.
“The word merger never came up in our discussions,” Monroe said. “We talked about cooperation.”