Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis recently replaced Missouri's Brady Deaton as chairman of the Big 12 board of directors. Hargis, also a member of the Big 12 expansion committee, took time for a question-and-answer session Saturday during the Cowboys game against Kansas.
What does being chairman of the board mean to you?
“I don't know if that's a distinction or punishment, everything we've been through. I think things are looking up. I'm optimistic.”
What does the role entail?
“Oh, I think I'm just a person that calls for the motion and a second. It's not like I got elected because of my great ability. We rotate the chairmanship. I was the vice chairman and Brady was the chairman and when he resigned, I don't know if I ascended or descended to the chairman.”
What can you tell us about TCU's invitation and was it unanimous?
“Yes, but Missouri didn't vote. But it was unanimous and it was enthusiastic. You know, it's just a really good fit. They're in our footprint. They have traditional rivalries. It's a very strong academic institution and it has great sports. So you put all that into the mix and it's hard to think of a reason not to do that. We're very optimistic that TCU will accept our invitation.”
Did you kind of know the answer before you extended the invitation?
“It's kind of like asking a girl out, right? You want to know the answer. I think we felt like there was a good chance they had interest. I hadn't had any direct conversations with anybody there, but just reading what you all write, it looked like there was some interest.”
What's next for this group?
“I hope Missouri announcing they're staying is what's next. Then we're at 10, a good solid 10. And whether we go beyond that this year or later is going to be up to the board. And I'm not sure there's unanimity on the board on that subject.”
Is Missouri not happy with the six-year grant of television rights, not agreeing to that when it was on the table? Is there something more they are looking for?
“I don't think so. I think Missouri, just from conversations we've had for a long time, would be very pleased with what we've done. I think the obstacle with assigning rights is if you're looking around, you don't want to leave your TV rights back where you were.”
What's your gut feeling on Missouri?
“Well, I don't know if it's my visceral feeling or my hope, but I think after all is said and done and everything is considered they'll stay. I hope they'll stay. It's a great school and great people and great rivalries. I think it would just be a real loss to the conference for them to leave.”
Do you sense there is pressure from their fans to move to the SEC?
“You know, in these things you hear from everybody, everything. There's plenty of fans who would like them to move one place or another and many to stay. I think they'll consider all that, I'm sure, the effect on the state of Missouri, Kansas City, St. Louis will be considered. I'm very optimistic they will conclude it's in their best interest to stay.”
Is there a pecking order of teams to where if you add more, who's next?
“On our expansion committee, we're considering a lot of schools. Obviously, we're not going to go solicit schools without a good rationale. We have schools who are soliciting us, who have contacted us. So we're considering all of them. The criteria is we want a school with strong academics, with strong athletic programs. We don't want a school that will be dilutive of all our revenues. And we'd like them to be in our footprint, just for the ease of travel for our student-athletes and our fans. We're trying to analyze each possibility based on that criteria.”
By footprint, do you mean an eight-hour drive or what?
“Oh, I don't know what I mean exactly. These days in flying, you could probably go a little farther than that. I think kind of in this culture, this Midwest culture that we have would be great. And I'm confident we can do that, if necessary, if we decide to go to 12. As I say, I hope Missouri decides to stay, we'll be at a solid 10 and we can take our time looking at whether we decide to expand. I've said several times, I'm for 12. I'd like to go back to 12. But I know everybody doesn't feel that way.”