Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Texas Tech

Shunning A&M

It’s not just the UT-A&M football game that’s on the endangered list.

The SEC-bound Aggies have said they’d love to keep playing UT as a non-conference foe, but Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds has said the school’s football schedule is full at least through 2018. That isn’t the case for all sports, but so far A&M has come up dry in scheduling future contests of any sort with UT.

“There doesn’t seem to be nearly as much interest from the other side,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said Monday.

[…]

Byrne has instructed his coaches to contact their UT counterparts about scheduling future non-conference games – with no luck to date.

“I reached out about four weeks ago to Texas and emailed and said we’d love to keep the series going,” A&M soccer coach G. Guerrieri said. “I haven’t heard back.”

A&M baseball coach Rob Childress said he and UT counterpart Augie Garrido have yet to discuss whether to continue playing as non-conference foes.

I’d speculated about this before, and I can’t say I’m surprised to see UT give A&M a cold shoulder. There’s no real incentive for them to do otherwise. The question now is whether any other Texas-based school will follow the Longhorns’ lead. At least one so far seems to be doing so.

As for the Aggies perhaps playing another soon-to-be former Big 12 mate in Baylor, Bears athletic director Ian McCaw said via email Monday, “At this time, our future non-conference football schedules are filled through 2020. With regard to scheduling Texas A&M in other sports, it will be considered on a sport-by-sport basis.”

Anyone know what the status of future games between A&M and Texas Tech is? How about TCU, SMU, and UH? Rice has played A&M fairly regularly in baseball lately, and occasionally in basketball, but has not played them in football since the demise of the SWC. I don’t expect any changes there. Looks to me like the Aggies will be racking up the frequent flyer miles in the coming years.

But it’s football! Football’s different!

Times are tough in Texas, especially for public schools and universities. Everyone is being asked to make do with less. Well, almost everyone.

Several professors at a [Texas Tech] faculty senate meeting Wednesday questioned the university’s January announcement it will increase [head football coach Tommy] Tuberville’s annual pay by $500,000 through 2015, one of the university’s few raises as it braces for lawmakers to cut tens of millionsof dollars from the university’s revenue.

The five-year $11 million contract guarantees Tuberville at least $2 million per year, up from $1.5 million in the original contract he signed with Tech in 2010.

[…]

Richard Meek, president of Tech’s faculty senate, sees both sides of the debate. While he understands how competitive the NCAA coaching market can be, he also relates to his fellow faculty members who have been asked to take a pay freeze in 2011.

Tech nixed $3 million in faculty raises to absorb an 8-percent reduction in state funding already in effect, and the freeze doesn’t show any sign of thaw in early budget drafts out of Austin.

“If that was me, I would have turned it down,” said Julian Spallholz, a faculty senator and human sciences professor. “I would have been embarrassed (to accept the raise).”

Others later said the raise shows a priority on athletics over academics.

Meek, like [Tech president Guy] Bailey, said some frustration may stem from confusion about how Tech pays Tuberville’s salary. Many fail to understand that a funding wall separates academics and athletic budgets, Bailey said, so the raise does not directly siphon from academic coffers. Each year, however, academics does subsidize $2.5 million of the athletic department’s budget. Bailey said Tech has reduced that to $2.25 million this year to reflect state cuts and he hopes to slowly wean athletics off that subsidy entirely over the next few years.

But, he added, his office first needs time to untangle federal and NCAA red tape tied to the subsidy.

If nothing else, the timing of this sure sucks. You can be sure that this sort of drama is going to play out elsewhere as well. I’ve already seen a bunch of griping in comments on stories and posts about the looming public education cuts about athletic facilities and coaches’ salaries and whatnot. However you view this situation, the fact remains that as with the rest of the budget, some people are being told they must sacrifice a lot, while others are being asked to do very little, if anything. You better believe that’s going to lead to resentment.

Big XII lives

Wow.

“The University of Texas’ athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference,” the school announced Monday in a statement.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released the following statement:

“Texas A&M is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference and will continue to be affiliated with the conference in the future. As Athletics Director Bill Byrne and I have stated on numerous occasions, our hope and desire was for the Big 12 to continue. We are committed to the Big 12 and its success today and into the future.”

Oklahoma also announced its intention to stay in the Big 12.

Less than five hours ago, the departure of UT, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the PAC 10 was described as “imminent”, though there were other reports at the same time that the situation was more fluid. Guess we know which it is. I’m a little surprised by this, on the grounds that UT’s regents were to meet tomorrow, and A&M’s regents had not yet even scheduled a meeting. Apparently, that pitch from Big XII Commish Dan Beebe was more compelling than I expected it to be.

Beebe’s pitch involves projections of a significant increase in the Big 12’s cable rights beginning in 2012. The numbers suggest an average payout per team at about $17 million, just under the $17.4 million per school the deep-pocketed SEC distributed.

“We have as much value as 10 here than just about any other conference out there,” Beebe said Friday. “If it’s about that value and that money, then that shouldn’t be part of the equation.

“If it’s about other factors that are outside of our control, then there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Big 12 schools heard an optimistic presentation in Kansas City during the spring meetings by Fox Sports Net suggesting a significant increase.

There is a catch: the Fox offer to the Big 12 would be long term, upward of 18 years, according to multiple sources. A great deal now might not be as lucrative in 2025.

The Big 12 could get even more cash in 2016, when the league’s broadcast TV rights package with ABC/ESPN expires. The departure of Colorado and Nebraska will add about $32 million to the conference in penalties over the next two years.

According to ESPN, UT will still be allowed to pursue its own TV network. Earlier reports had suggested that this would be a deal-killer for Texas A&M. Just goes to show you never really knew what was going on all this time. The questions I have now are one, will the PAC 10+1 add a 12th team so they can at least get a conference championship game, and two, will the Big 10 and its 12 members swap names with the Big XII and its 10 members? I suppose it’s possible the Big XII could hunt for a couple of new members to make its name accurate again – I have a statement from State Rep. Garnet Coleman advocating for the inclusion of UH and TCU – but that still doesn’t settle the Big 10 mess. All in due time, I suppose. Credit to the DMN for being first out with the story.

Baylor versus Colorado

Like Justin, I find this a little hard to believe.

Political forces in the state of Texas are preparing to demand that Baylor — not Colorado — should be one of the schools in the mix should the Pac-10 extend an invitation to six Big 12 schools to join its ranks, according to Orangebloods.com.

[…]

“If you’re going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we’re going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don’t think so. We’re already at work on this,” the site quoted a a high-ranking member of the Texas Legislature as saying.

The source said that there is a block of 15 legislators working to make sure that Baylor, not Colorado, is invited to join the Pac-10. The source pointed to the political and economic importance of keeping the Big 12’s Texas schools together as well as Colorado’s recent athletic struggles and lack of sports such as baseball, softball and men’s tennis.

Hard to imagine there are 15 legislators who care that much about what happens to Baylor, but I suppose anything is possible. Let’s just say I will remain skeptical about this until such time as I see some names attached to these reports. More on that from a PAC 10 perspective is here.

Meanwhile, what the PAC 10 decides to do is dependent in part on what the Big 10 decides to do.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, who chairs the men’s basketball committee, compared the conference’s discussions here to his committee’s shortly before it expanded March Madness to 68 teams. At one point, the idea of a 96-team field was floated before the more modest change was adopted. That could be what happens in the Pac-10 — with the latest whopper just a bombshell that spurs talks.

“We went through an exercise of due diligence and really decided to look at all the possible scenarios and all the options to see what might be in the best interest of the association long term,” Guerrero said. “We’re doing the exact same thing here. We’re in a due-diligence process.”

USC athletic director Mike Garrett, whose football and basketball programs are under investigation for NCAA rules violations, declined comment.

The future look of the Pac-10 could depend on what happens with the Big Ten. If Notre Dame elects to join that conference, the likelihood is that any Pac-10 expansion would be modest. But if the Big Ten pulls in Nebraska and Missouri instead, the Big 12 could be in danger of crumbling. The Pac-10 wants to be position to scoop up some of those schools, particularly Texas, which brings with it a large, lucrative TV audience.

The NCAA Tournament analogy is instructive. In the end, we could get Notre Dame to the Big 10 (which, as it currently has 11 members, would make it another Big 12, albeit not in name) and little else. Until Nebraska and Missouri make up their minds, for which they reportedly has two weeks to do, we’ll see a lot of speculation. And a multidimensional Prisoner’s Dilemma:

In the middle, the Big 12 presses against these encroaching walls with increasing uncertainty, much of it rooted in distrust across the North and South divisions. A unified membership committed to the future of the conference would likely be safe from the poachers, and on some level, it’s possible no individual member is actually anxious to leave the conference as it’s existed since 1995; as Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said last week, he prefers remaining in the Big 12 if “the conference stays intact, completely intact, with all 12 members.” That depends on the conference’s anchors, Nebraska and Texas, neither of which is interested in remaining without the other, but neither of which can guarantee it isn’t ready to ship out for (literally) greener pastures.

The PAC 10 Commissioner has been given the authority to pursue expansion, so the dominoes are lined up and awaiting a catalyst. And once again, let me just say as a Rice fan, my heart breaks for these guys. May they all get indigestion while they make up their minds just how obscenely rich they want to be.

The costs and rewards of pursuing Tier I

It’s going to cost a lot of money for the schools that have been authorized to pursue Tier I status to actually achieve it.

The University of Houston estimates it would cost an additional $70 million a year to reach its goal by 2015. The University of Texas at El Paso’s plan ultimately could add almost $200 million a year to its operating budget.

New state funds will help, but much of the money will come from the universities themselves, requiring substantial private fundraising even as the economy continues an uneven recovery.

“We would like to be back to the good old days where the state subsidized us more than it does but realistically, there’s not going to be a lot more money from the state,” said John Antel, the chief academic officer for UH. “We can’t charge students much more. We’re going to have to go out and raise the money.”

The potential reward for all that investment is also quite substantial.

The strategic plans filed with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board spell out how each school hopes to get there.

All intend to add both students and faculty, with faculty who will bring $1 million or more in research grants especially prized. And all seven promise to maintain or increase the number of minority students they serve.

You can find all of those strategic plans, including ones for the already-Tier-I UT and Texas A&M, here. The end result should be thousands of new jobs – not just faculty, but also staff to support the increased enrollments and new programs; I’d bet there will also be some construction involved as well – more students attending Texas universities, and higher graduation rates. Oh, and more high-end research being conducted in Texas as well. The economic impact of all this ought to be quite large. I can’t wait to see it come about.

Leach v. Tech

Yesterday, Texas Tech head Mike Leach filed a lawsuit against the school to force them to let him coach in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

Mike Leach is taking his battle from the football field to the courtroom.

Attorney Ted Liggett filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that would allow Leach to continue coaching Texas Tech in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

[…]

Leach, 48, is alleged to have ordered [wide receiver Adam James, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James] placed under guard inside dark, confined rooms on two occasions after the player said he had been told by a doctor he could not practice because he had suffered a concussion. Leach also directed abusive, profane language toward James, according to a spokeswoman for the James family.

A series of e-mails and statements from former Tech coaches and players that have been obtained by the Chronicle include praise for Leach and criticism of Adam James’ talent, attitude and work ethic.

“The family is confident that the university has proceeded and will continue to proceed in a fair and thorough manner with its investigation,” the family spokeswoman said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that coach Leach has stooped to personal and unfounded slurs against a player and his family.”

Today Tech fired him.

Leach’s attorney Ted Liggett said that Texas Tech general counsel Pat Campbell approached him outside the courtroom and told him that win, lose or draw in the hearing, Leach was out, effective immediately.

When Liggett entered the courtroom he told the judge there was no need for the hearing on Leach’s request that he be reinstated to coach the Alamo Bowl.

[…]

Liggett said Leach’s side has evidence that shows the decision to suspend the coach was without merit.

“So they pulled the trigger,” Liggett said. “They don’t want that coming out.”

Boy howdy is this going to be a circus. The Trib has a copy of the original suit. Is it just me, or does anyone else think this will be a bit of a distraction for the Tech players on Saturday?

One more thing:

Leach is the second Big 12 coach in recent weeks to be accused of improper treatment of players. Kansas coach Mark Mangino resigned this month in the wake of allegations by former players that he made insensitive, humiliating remarks to them during games or practice, often in front of others.

Perhaps the conference needs to take a look at this to see if there’s something they could do to improve things. I’m just saying. Richard Justice, Jake Silverstein, who had previously joked about the Texas Monthly cover jinx, and Martha have more.

Petition to fire Alberto Gonzales

Once Texas Tech made the bizarre decision to hire Alberto Gonzales as a faculty member, a petition demanding that they fire him was sure to follow. You know my opinion on these things, so take whatever action you deem appropriate. I will say, given that we’re in the collegiate world, that there was an alternate model for this sort of activism that has a decent track record, so I’m not sure why it wasn’t chosen. Having said that, FireAlbertoGonzales.com can be yours for a very reasonable price. Again, take whatever action you deem appropriate. A growing list of faculty members at Tech will be with you. Rick Casey has more.

Texas Tech hires Alberto Gonzales

I’m speechless.

Alberto Gonzales, who resigned as the Bush administration’s embattled attorney general nearly two years ago, has lined up a fall-semester teaching spot at Texas Tech University, the university confirmed today.

Gonzales, who was Gov. George W. Bush’s lawyer, Texas secretary of state and then a Texas Supreme Court justice before joining Bush in Washington, will be working as an visiting professor in the political science department, teaching a “special topics” course on contemporary issues in the executive branch, according to Dora Rodriguez, a senior business assistant in the department. The university later said it will be a junior-level course.

[…]

Lawrence Schovanec, interim dean of Texas Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences, was quoted saying: “Judge Gonzales brings a unique experience to our classroom. His career in law, government and public service will provide our political science students a rich perspective of the executive branch and issues and challenges facing our nation. ”

I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to say something like that without irony, but apparently it is. I really don’t know what there is to say about this, other than I pity the poor souls in their alumni relations department for all of the crap they’re about to endure. Oh, and I hope someone does as this TPM commenter suggests:

Please tell me there’s at least one Texas Tech political science student with the guts to answer “I do not recall” to every test question. Maybe even “I do not recall remembering.”

Amen to that.

More Tier One schools

Here’s some genuine good news from Sunday night’s chaos.

Legislation intended to lift some of the state’s public universities to top-tier status has passed the House and Senate and now goes to Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to sign it.

The measure, House Bill 51, also includes authorization for a $150 million bond issue for the hurricane-damaged University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, part of a $1.3 billion package of funding for that campus, and $5 million for Texas A&M University-Galveston.

Seven so-called emerging research universities would compete for extra funding in hopes of joining the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University as nationally recognized research institutions. Rice University, which is private, is also a top-tier school.

The 2010-11 budget approved by the Legislature includes $50 million for the emerging universities in addition to their normal appropriations. The $50 million would be parceled out based on which schools raise the most money from private donations for enhancing research and recruiting faculty members.

Officials of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board say it could take 20 years and considerably more funding for even one of the seven emerging institutions — UT-Dallas, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, UT-El Paso, the University of North Texas, the University of Houston and Texas Tech University — to rise into the big leagues

Still, lawmakers and higher education leaders said passage of the legislation represents a commitment that, in time, should lead to the development of more high-demand universities, reducing pressure on UT-Austin under the state’s automatic-admission law.

“This is one of those real privileges to carry this legislation,” said Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

That is good news. You may recall a report from the Legislative Study Group, which I blogged about a year ago, that highlighted the need for more Tier I schools. I think this represents a major step forward, and I’m glad to see it got done. Kudos to all for that. Statements about HB51 from Reps. Ellen Cohen and Garnet Coleman are beneath the fold.

(more…)