KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- One conference is dying, one is being
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
The Big Eight traces its ancestry back even further and counts
Wilt Chamberlain, Johnny Rodgers and Lee Roy Selmon among its most
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
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
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
"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.