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Big 12 to Continue SWC, Big 8 Traditions
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Big 12 to Continue SWC, Big 8 Traditions

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- One conference is dying, one is being

born.

By the end of their ground-breaking transition meetings this

week, elation mixed with sadness among the men and women who'll run

the day-to-day affairs of the Big 12. They're looking back with

nostalgia. They're looking forward with excitement.

And justifiably so because never in history has anybody done

what they're about to do. Major new conferences have been formed, a

recent example being the Big East. And conferences have made

notable acquisitions, such as Arkansas' joining the SEC and the Big

Ten's taking in Penn State.

But never has one major conference with a long, proud history

disbanded at the same time another shed its identity to become a

bigger association with new rules, new ways and a fresh approach at

dividing new money.

It was December, 1914 when the Southwest Conference held its

first organizational meeting. Down through the decades, such

luminaries as Earl Campbell, Doak Walker and John David Crowe made

it great.

The Big Eight traces its ancestry back even further and counts

Wilt Chamberlain, Johnny Rodgers and Lee Roy Selmon among its most

distinguished alumni.

But now each conference is heading into its final season of

competition, victims of the new economic order in college sports.

Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor are leaving the SWC to

join Big Eight members Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma

State, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa State to form the Big

12.

The remaining SWC members, Houston, TCU, Southern Methodist and

Rice, have all found new alliances. But for one more year it still

will be the Big Eight and the Southwest Conference.

Before the Big 12 officially begins competition in August of

1996, there will be one last SWC football game, one last Big Eight

basketball contest.

There are bound to be a few awkward moments as some of America's

premier sports programs ring out the old and ring in the new. It

will be particularly awkward in Texas because that's where old

partners are breaking up.

"There is no doubt our situation is different from the Big

Eight's," said Bob Bockrath, Texas Tech athletic director. "There's

a segment of the population that is saddened by the demise of our

conference.

"And there is a large group that's excited about the

opportunities and challenges of the new conference, the prospect or

bringing 12 powerful schools under one umbrella. It will be

interesting to see how this last year unfolds." "

Still, it's going to be an adjustment as well in the Big Eight.

"The Big Eight was a very successful conference with a small

number of schools and a small population," Colorado athletic

director Bill Marolt said. "We were alarmed about what our future

prospects were. The fact we've been able to interest four school

from Texas to join us and form this conference not only saved the

Big Eight but is going to create a premier conference."

Both leagues are planning end-of-era celebrations.

"We're all working on ideas to properly recognize the last year

of the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight," said Missouri

athletic director Joe Castiglione.

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