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How Can Politicians Affect Conference Realignment?

ByAndrew Pistone

2 min read

How Can Politicians Affect Conference Realignment?

As the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma prepare to leave the Big 12, it seems like there might be no end to the exodus college sports programs will be involved with in the next decade. Conferences with rich traditional history in their part of the country are being slowly dissolved as teams flee for traditional power groupings and enhanced brand awareness. On the surface, it seems like there isn’t anything that can be done about schools jumping ship. But there may be one professional segment of the country that can shine a light on this trend; politicians.

While it might surprising that state and federal government would be particularly interested in which conference schools are affiliated with, there’s certainly a level of investment among politicians. Kansas senator Roger Marshall is hoping to get more information about what specifically motivated the Sooners and Longhorns to bolt to the SEC. Marshall believes that television rights, and namely, ESPN’s contract with the SEC, had a lot to do with how the transition went down. He even intimates that the network helped facilitate the move behind the scenes.

“I write today to ask that the DOJ, investigate ESPN’s role in the potential destruction of the Big 12 Conference…and if any anti competitive or illegal behavior occurred relating to manipulating the conference change or ESPN’s contractual television rights,” Marshall wrote in his letter. Via SaturdayDownSouth.com

As the University of Texas exits stage left, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick created a Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports In Texas. It sounds like an extreme measure, but there’s a lot of interest in the state about how this all went down.

“It is vital that the Texas Senate understand the economic and athletic impact of (the University of Texas) leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference,” Patrick said. Via Dallasnews.com

There doesn’t seem to be much the government can do about the departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, but it looks like there’s a potential wave of support for another school in the Lone Star state to take grab one of the vacated spots. The University of Houston has had a reported interest in trying to join a major conference, after being snubbed by the Big 12 in 1996. Patrick, and Texas governor Greg Abbott have expressed support for the Cougars joining the Big 12 in the past.

Fans and alumni will continue to keep tabs on breaking developments, but one thing is clear; politicians fall into both of the aforementioned categories and care about how this unfolds.

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