In response to all the “academics do so matter when we’re considering conference expansion” blather being tossed about, here’s what LSU’s president has to say:
“Once an athletic conference is expanded by the addition of athletically effective institutions with strong television markets, then the members talk about the relative wonderfulness of their members’ academic profiles.”
Or, to put it more directly, as Jon Wilner has,
The Pac-12 CEOs were also leery of adding the Oklahoma schools on academic grounds — neither is a member of the Association of American Universities. But as noted previously on the Hotline, that’s a convenient excuse: The league had no problem adding OU and OSU last year when it needed expansion money.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a villain in all this, the WWL says, hey, don’t look at us!
The driving force on realignment lies with the conferences and universities. The Big 12 determined in 2010 to grant each of its schools the ability to create their own networks. As a result, the Big 12 stayed together and the University of Texas made the decision to launch its network. ESPN subsequently won a competitive bid to become its media partner. We have since seen Kansas State and Missouri create opportunities while Oklahoma is exploring its media options. The concept of LHN remains the same as it was 15 months ago.
I’m sure the Disney folks tell themselves that every night before they go to bed. It seems to be about all they can contribute to the story right now.
Reaction III: What I find most interesting is that throughout this massive news story — the potential realignment of collegiate athletics as we know it — the WWL has been relatively quite. It has done very little original reporting and broken very, very few stories. (It did, however, shamelessly fail to credit the New York Times for first reporting the Pitt/Syracuse/ACC story last weekend, instead presenting the news as original to ESPN during the Saturday morning crawl.)
Reaction IV: ESPN does a lot of things very well, and it has a lot of very good reporters (one of the best anywhere is right here). But because of its business relationships with the very conferences involved in realignment, it has been a secondary player in a news story of the first order.