Conference Realignment Lessons
With the football season upon us, I am reminded how the Big 12 almost imploded in June 2010. It was a whirlwind of events, and like many of you, I followed the action mostly through news reports, blogs and tweets. The episode illustrates the unique role our alumni association plays in the life of the university. Alumni nationwide were constantly weighing in on the issue, and campus leaders were asking what alumni thought about the matter. The association’s role as the voice of 250,000-plus alumni is not an easy one, but we did serve as a conduit for information to campus leadership.
Here are some things I learned during the conference realignment discussions:
• Mizzou alumni and fans love our rivalry with Kansas. Over and over again, people told me that, no matter what, we need to continue playing the Jayhawks. The resuscitation of the Big 12 keeps the KU rivalry alive, along with several other longstanding relationships with the old Big Eight schools.
• Mizzou fans were open to change. The snubs from bowls over the past three seasons were not forgotten. What’s more, as the drama wore on, many expected a move to the Big Ten. When that didn’t happen, fans were disappointed and wanted answers — answers only the Big Ten has. The fact is, no offer was made by the Big Ten, and the best option was to remain in the Big 12.
• Conference realignment was mainly about money. Although academic rankings and geography are considerations, television contracts for football programs and the money attached to them seemed to be the biggest factors.
• Finally, there is no doubt that Mizzou pride got dinged a bit during this process. It was tough for some to see a conference rival leave and go where most speculated Mizzou was headed. It gave the appearance that a better school was chosen, but that was a false appearance.
We cannot allow the results of conference realignment to define our institution. The growth and success of Mizzou over the past decade has been remarkable, and those things won’t change. Alumni have been important partners in achieving that success and will continue to be as we build our alma mater.
Let me know what you think by dropping me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support of Mizzou, and go Tigers!
executive director, Mizzou Alumni Association