Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be in Morgantown today to welcome West Virginia to the conference.
The Big 12 is formally ushering in two new members - West Virginia University and TCU - today. Celebrations will be held in Morgantown and Fort Worth, Texas, to mark the event.And among those attending will be the league's new commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, who resigned as the Stanford athletic director to take over the league on May 4. In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Gazette-Mail, Bowlsby touched on his new duties, WVU and possible expansion.Gazette-Mail - You're flying to Morgantown for today's celebration. Have you ever visited West Virginia before?Bowlsby - I've been to West Virginia once before. It was for a basketball game or a wrestling match; I can't remember which.Gazette-Mail - How would you describe your relationship with WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, whose son Andrew starred at quarterback for Stanford?Bowlsby - I know him and he has one of the country's great sports families. Oliver Luck is going to provide tremendous leadership [for WVU] and he'll be a part of the league's senior management team. He's already had an impact.Gazette-Mail - What expectations do you have of WVU as it moves into the Big 12?Bowlsby - The university has a wonderful sports tradition. The school has a lot of momentum and it looks like it has a pretty salty football team this season. That's a good way to dive into the league.
Gazette-Mail - What issues are you tackling right now?Bowlsby - Well, I've been in the middle of the BCS negotiations. We've been finalizing our television negotiations. And we're always discussing league expansion. Beyond that, I've just been getting acclimated to the conference and the people I'll be working with.
Gazette-Mail - What can you tell us about your trip to Morgantown?Bowlsby - I'll get there midday Sunday, stay overnight and head home. It will be [West Virginia's] first official day in the league and I wanted to be there. But I'll also make a full set of campus visits this summer.
Gazette-Mail - What can you tell us about possible expansion?Bowlsby - For every conference out there, you're having ongoing discussions about expansion, whether anything happens or not. With all that's gone on, you have to. Everyone will keep it in the front of their minds.Gazette-Mail - Are there any active negotiations with any other schools concerning Big 12 membership?
Bowlsby - No.Gazette-Mail - What's your view on membership? Is the current 10-school model all right or should there be more?Bowlsby - I don't think there's anything at all wrong with 10. Every league has to make its own decision based on membership. I think you only consider adding schools that make a substantial impact.I think it ought to be a very difficult fraternity to get into.Gazette-Mail - We've heard reports about the 13-year, $2.6 billion television deal with ESPN and Fox. When will the official announcement be made?Bowlsby - Generally speaking, we've already come to terms. [The announcement] will be made in the coming weeks or months.
Gazette-Mail - Please clear up the issue concerning schools granting media rights to the league. Schools agreed to grant the rights for a minimum of six years, but then word came that was extended to 13 years. Has that agreement been signed?Bowlsby - It has been extended to 13 years and it has been signed.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com
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