Big 12 Alive And Kicking

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Big 12 is alive and kicking.

The University of Texas on Monday said it was staying in the Big

12, followed moments later by pledges from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

and Texas A&M to remain in a league that had seemed to be falling

apart last week when Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10)

decided to leave over the next two years.

The Texas announcement came shortly after Pac-10 commissioner

Larry Scott confirmed to The Associated Press in an e-mail that

Texas had declined an invitation to become the 12th member of his

conference. Scott said Texas president William Powers Jr. told him

"the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay


Powers wouldn't give any details about why the school decided to

stay put when asked by the AP. The school has scheduled a news

conference for Tuesday morning.

A person with direct knowledge of discussions among the Big 12's

remaining members said Texas is clear to set up its own TV network

and keep all proceeds in exchange for remaining in the Big 12. The

person, speaking on condition of anonymity because nothing has been

finalized, said details were still being worked out.

The fate of the conference born in 1996 when the Big 8 merged

with four members of the Southwest Conference has been at risk for

days, and Texas emerged as the key to the Big 12's survival. The

Pac-10 courted Texas and other Big 12 South Division schools, while

Texas A&M reportedly expressed interest in going to the

Southeastern Conference barring a better offer.

"Texas A&M is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference and will

continue to be affiliated with the conference in the future,"

school president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement.

Officials at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma issued similar

statements, with OSU president Burns Hargis singling out Big 12

commissioner Dan Beebe for his "bold moves and intense efforts."

Beebe did not return messages seeking comment Monday.

The news that the Big 12 survived spread quickly.

"That's great news," said Scott Drew, whose Baylor men's

basketball team advanced to the South regional final in the NCAA

tournament a few months ago. "Obviously, we're very excited and

pleased about the 10 schools staying together. It will be great to

continue the rivalries and traditions."

Texas A&M had represented another wild card, with school

officials meeting with Pac-10 and SEC officials in recent days. If

the Aggies are serious about leaving for the SEC, no matter what

Texas and the others decide, would that prompt the Longhorns,

Sooners and the rest to decide the Big 12 is not worth saving with

only nine members?

Texas A&M regent Gene Stallings said Monday he wants the Big 12

to survive and would vote to keep the Aggies in the league if they

don't get a much better offer. Stallings told The Associated Press

that keeping the Big 12 together "would tickle me to death."

Stallings coached Alabama to a football national championship in

1992. He has said that if Texas A&M does move, he'd rather see the

Aggies go to the SEC than the Pac-10, but his comments Monday

suggested that would be a last resort.

"I know how hard all the Big 12 coaches have worked to make our

conference the No. 1 conference in the country," Baylor's Drew

said. "When you achieve that status, you obviously don't want to

see it disappear. The rivalries and traditions and fans support are

what help make the Big 12 the best conference in the country."


AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York, AP Sports

Writers Doug Tucker in Kansas City, Mo., and Stephen Hawkins in

Dallas also contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)