Athletics in Transition: The Realities of Conference Realignment
December 12, 2013 01:12 PM
Realities of Conference Realignment
Chris Del Conte, TCU
Daryl Gross, Syracuse
Eric Hyman, Texas A&M
Oliver Luck, West Virginia
THE REAL EFFECTS OF REALIGNMENT: Each of the schools reported big business jumps from their realignment. Texas A&M’s Eric Hyman said student applications at the school jumped five-fold after the move to the SEC. "The SEC has created a lot of enthusiasm and pride in A&M," Hyman said. “It's boosted university donations, not just athletic donations. It's not all about athletics." Travel expenses for the realigned schools in most instances have jumped noticeably. In West Virginia's case, for example, the school's athletic department spends an additional $2 million per year in team travel competing in the Big 12. But those expenses have been more than compensated by increased media rights fees. "All of us have benefited financially," Luck said. "Our TV rights went up 2 to 3 times. Travel costs increased, sure, but that was way overtaken by media. All the metrics are better, in some cases significantly."
QUICK HIT: Several of the panelists described their search for a new conference fit as an epic quest. "When the Southwest Conference broke up, we were like the Israelites, looking for a major conference," Del Conte said. "The culture of TCU was that we needed to be in a major conference. We were sort of were on a conference odyssey." When asked what the next big conference shakeup would be, Del Conte flipped the question around, "The bigger question is when the [new] football playoff goes from four teams to eight."