IRVING (AP) – Oklahoma President David Boren in the past had described the Big 12 Conference as “psychologically disadvantaged” as the smallest of the five power conferences.
Now serving as the chair of the 10-team league’s board of directors, which will make the final decisions on possible expansion, Boren spoke Thursday about a strong conference on a “very positive track” that would rather be right than hasty when determining its future.
“I think our conference is extremely strong, and I want to underline that,” Boren said. “We’ve gone through choppy periods in the past, but from my point of view of having been here as a president through the whole history of this conference, I don’t think this conference has ever been stronger.”
The board of directors will meet again Friday, on the last day of the Big 12 spring meetings, when the league’s distributable revenue for the 2015-16 will be revealed. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said earlier this week that he would “have very good news to announce.”
League members split a record $252 million in revenue in 2014-15, the ninth consecutive year that number increased.
There is still a concern moving forward of potential financial imbalances compared to other power five leagues like the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten with their growing revenues.
“We cannot, we should not be at a strong disadvantage,” Boren said. “Everyone doesn’t have to be exactly penny-for-penny the same, but we do want to find strategies that will help us in terms of the financial situation going forward.”
Boren said there are different potential methods, such as expansion, a network or emerging and ever-changing technologies. He said he has an open mind with “no theological positions” on any of those.
Consultants hired by the league did a presentation Thursday that included possible candidates for expansion and what expansion might do for the league financially.
Boren wouldn’t go into any details, but said, “There are some strong people out there that would be willing to join this conference.”
There is expected to be more from that presentation Friday, when another group will also talk to the board about media rights.
Bowlsby said Wednesday that he would push Big 12 leaders to make decisions one way or another by the end of the summer on those lingering topics of expansion, a football championship game and a league-wide television network.
Boren described the board of directors in a data-gathering mode rather than a decision-making one “so we can look at the data itself in an unemotional, clear-eyed way in a careful way doing our due diligence.”
He said presidents could reconvene later in the summer to make any decisions “if they are appropriate, if the data moves us in that direction.” But he said they would first take the information they gather back to campus for conversations with their own university communities.
“We are in a position of strength. When you’re in a position of strength, it is the time to make some decisions,” Boren said. “But also, it is a time you can afford to be very careful about your decisions. We’re not into any kind of crisis in which we have to decide something very quickly and move in a different direction. … I’m not one to be bound by some theological dogma when it comes to this question.”
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