Baylor University

Ken Starr: Big 12 Update

Sept. 13, 2011

We are grateful for the many words of support during the recent tumult associated with the Big 12 athletic conference. The administration has endeavored to provide periodic updates to the Student Government President, Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Staff Council leadership. During these challenging times, the strong statements of support that have come from our meetings with student, faculty and staff leaders has both encouraged and energized us. Thank you.

At the present time, we are optimistic that the Big 12 will remain a viable athletic conference. As we have said consistently, we think a strong Big 12 Conference is in the best interest of all parties - most notably, our students and student-athletes. News reports are full of wild speculation, with rumor and unidentified sources driving much of the discussion. What I can tell you is that the issues are complex, but important conversations are continuing.

Lest we conclude this is purely about our athletic programs, let me assure you that this is an issue that could impact all of us. Clearly, our storied football rivalries and related traditions are considered by prospective and current students an important element of student life on our campus. And what of the student-faculty experience that we hold so dear? Dramatic changes in conference configuration would force student-athletes to travel greater distances to compete. This change would be disruptive to the classroom experience and make difficult for student-athletes the high level of engagement with faculty that is such a hallmark of a Baylor education. Threatened as well could be the revenue dollars that come into the University from various sources as a result of the front porch which a nationally visible athletics program provides.

Let me also make clear that the course Baylor is following in these negotiations, and the manner in which we are participating, is absolutely consistent with the high standards to which our distinct mission as a Christian university calls us. We will continue to represent Baylor in the most honest, transparent and honorable manner possible. In particular, I want you to know that Baylor has always complied fully with its contractual responsibilities regarding the Big 12. At the heart of our concern are the solemn conference agreements signed in good faith by all current members of the Big 12 Conference. As a result of these agreements, and the guaranteed revenue associated with them, a number of our fellow Big 12 institutions have already made binding and significant commitments of financial resources that will have dramatic consequences on their campuses.

As we contemplate these issues, we are reminded how very proud we are of our student-athletes and our coaches. Sharing transformational mission trips during their breaks and reporting an overall grade point average last semester of 3.2, our student-athletes reflect, in a very public way, the character of Baylor's remarkable student body. Beyond that, we are making a strong statement on a national stage that Baylor University is a powerful presence in collegiate athletics in our country. We are confident that such a reputation will serve us well as present conversations continue concerning Baylor's future conference commitments. Please visit the Baylor Athletics Experience to learn more about athletic accolades.

We will continue periodically to update campus leadership and the entire campus community. In the meanwhile, we invite you to visit the Baylor Nation website for the latest news and information on the Big 12 discussions and for information on how you can get involved: www.baylor.edu/nation. You may also find of interest an opinion piece in today's Houston Chronicle, "Consider Costs of Ending Big 12," in which I share some thoughts about the Big 12 and Texas football traditions.

Let me close by once again extending a word of thanks to the many individuals within our community, both near and far, who have been so generous in their words of kindness and encouragement. Baylor's position is strong, and it is right. Because we have your prayers and your support, we are confident of a successful resolution of the current challenges we face.

We look forward to seeing many of you Saturday when our #19 ranked football team takes on Stephen F. Austin under the lights at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Sic'em, Baylor Nation!
Ken Starr

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