Dear Members of the Baylor Alumni Association,
I write to you concerning a time-sensitive matter of great importance to our alma mater. Just one week into assuming the presidency of Baylor University, Ken Starr has found himself confronted by a threat of historic proportions to the university.
By now you may be aware of nationally reported rumors of the Big 12 Conference’s realignment and the potential formation of other new conferences that would change college athletics across the country. Anticipated distributions to member schools from huge new television contracts are the driving forces behind these potential realignments. With only the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University among six possible Big 12 schools to be invited into an expansion of the Pac-10 Conference, early reports indicated that Baylor might be excluded from the potential realignment. This would leave Baylor to fend for itself, certainly in a weakened position. Baylor deserves better.
Inclusion in the Big 12 has put Baylor in the national eye in many ways. In 1996, Baylor entered the national conference to prove that we could be competitive with top-ranked athletic teams, even as a relatively small, private school. And prove it we have. No one will ever forget the thrill of our Baylor basketball teams’ stellar national performances this past year. In the last seven years, Baylor has ranked third in winning the most Big 12 titles (behind Texas and A&M). Revenue and prestige from Big 12 membership has helped Baylor build its athletic programs and facilities to be competitive with the best in the country, vastly superior to 1996. Fifteen of Baylor’s 18 varsity teams earned postseason rankings this year. Baylor has led the Big 12 in graduation rates three of the last four years. All of this, plus Baylor ranks fourth among Big 12 schools in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. Baylor has earned the right to be at the table.
Exclusion from a major national conference would have an impact far beyond athletics alone. In the fourteen years that Baylor has belonged to the Big 12, there have been numerous financial and academic benefits. Fundraising for all university divisions benefits substantially with the Big 12 distinction in the public eye. Baylor’s success in recruiting top academic students and outstanding faculty has been greatly enhanced. Collegial collaboration among Big 12 schools has become integral from the academic divisions to the library systems. National name recognition and reputation has opened many doors for greater advancement in the world of higher education.
I will not attempt to restate nor interpret all of the speculative sports reports from extensive media coverage. BAA executive vice president Jeff Kilgore previously sent you a link to the column written by President Starr for the Waco Tribune-Herald that was published on Monday, June 7, 2010.
The latest reports indicate Baylor may be coming into a more favorable position that can be strengthened with active help from alumni. In a Waco Tribune-Herald article published Tuesday, June 8, President Starr said he was “encouraged by an outpouring of very strong and fervent Baylor support” from Baylor alumni and the Board of Regents. He went on to “praise the University of Texas president’s strong commitment to keep the Big 12 together and to keep us moving toward a very bright future.” To read the whole story, click here.
Foremost, the desire is for Big 12 members to hold the conference together. Failing that, it is imperative that the four Texas schools stand united to preserve the historic bonds and working relationships that have been forged for decades. That is in the best interest of the fans and young athletes of Texas, of the financial impact on the state’s economy, of the taxpayers’ investment in higher education, and in continuation of the great legends and lore of Texas football.
President Starr has said, “The situation is extremely fluid right now. It is our understanding that the Pac-10 Conference may be preparing to invite six Big 12 members to join a proposed 16-team megaconference. Recent news reports indicate that Baylor’s stock is rising and that it could be included among the teams invited to form a new conference. What we do know is this: The Lone Star schools of the Big 12 should stick together.”
President Starr’s message is clear: Strong vocal support from alumni makes a difference. He is working diligently on Baylor’s behalf to keep the Big 12 together. He deserves our encouragement and assistance. We need to use our voices in our own circles of influence. We can personally contact those who may have a say in what happens, including current or former regents and administrators whom we know among other Big 12 schools and elected officials and legislators of the State of Texas. Contact information can be found below.
At the heart of the Baylor Alumni Association’s reason for being is providing alumni an independent voice for support of the best interests of Baylor University. Now is such a moment. I hope you will consider reaching out as quickly as possible to express your support of keeping the Big 12 Conference together and the vital importance of the four Texas schools staying together as a package, not only for Baylor and for Texans, but for sports fans everywhere.
Baylor matters. Baylor has earned the right to be at the table.
With warmest regards,
Emily G. Tinsley
President, Baylor Alumni Association
Contact information for the Texas Governor’s office:
Mailing address: Office of the Governor, P.O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711-2428
The Texas Governor’s website
Contact information for Texas Legislators:
Each site lists its members which can be sorted by name, district, or county. Click on a name and go to the email form provided.
The Texas House of Representatives
The Texas State Senate