Texas on Monday turned down an invitation to join the Pacific 10 Conference, ending the near-term chances of a powerhouse 16-school league in the West and a wild week of college football speculation.
" University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 intend to stay together,” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “We are excited about the future of the Pac-10 Conference and we will continue to evaluate future expansion opportunities under the guidelines previously set forth by our presidents and chancellors.”
As late as Sunday night, Texas appeared on the cusp of joining the Pac-10 and bringing along Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Texas A&M was originally part of the package but was also being courted by the Southeastern Conference.
However, Texas scuttled the deal after Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe was able to convince Longhorns officials -- and representatives from other schools considering an exit -- that the league could be financially viable with 10 schools.
The Big 12, formed in 1996, last week lost Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten.
Texas announced the decision with a short news release, which read in part: “The University of Texas’ athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference.”
The Pac-10 will now fall back on its contingency plan of expanding to 12 schools and splitting into two six-team football divisions beginning in 2012.
Colorado brings the number to 11, with Utah of the Mountain West Conference a strong candidate to complete the field.
Multiple media outlets reported the Big 12 was able to convince Texas it could put together a lucrative cable television package that could compete with or even surpass anything the Pac-10 might arrange. The Dallas Morning News reported Texas might earn between $20 million and $25 million annually in the reconfigured Big 12.
Also part of the Big 12 deal is the ability for schools to create their own television networks, potentially boosting revenue for a school such as Texas by an additional $3 million to $5 million per year. Had Texas joined the Pac-10, it would have had to share any revenue equally.
The news of Texas’ staying may have saved the Big 12 Conference from extinction and/or spared college football an expansion domino effect that could have drastically changed the conference landscape.