TU interim AD says school 'moving forward' with C-USA and Mountain West merger
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
The Big East Conference is expected to announce the additions of Conference USA schools Houston, Central Florida and SMU as well as Boise State and San Diego State as early as Wednesday, according to reports.
A person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because details were still being worked out with the schools.
The AP source says the five new schools will join in 2013. The incoming schools from C-USA would compete in all sports, while Boise State and San Diego State would be football-only members.
The realignment question was posed to Tulsa interim athletic director Ross Parmley during the “Inside Tulsa Athletics” weekly show on 1430 the Buzz on Wednesday night.
“This is something we’ve been planning for and talking about, this conference realignment, for a little over a year,” Parmley said. “There’s been a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different discussions out there. As of today, we’re moving forward with the Conference USA (and Mountain West) merger, whether that’s is football only or all sports. There’s still a lot of discussion about that.”
C-USA and the Mountain West, in an apparent preemptive strike last October, announced a football-only alliance between the two leagues in an effort to find stability and, if the current system stays the same, try to entice an automatic BCS bid. UTEP athletic director Bob Stull hinted last week that the leagues were exploring a full merger in all sports.
Conference USA would have nine schools remaining in 2013. The Mountain West Conference would have seven after losing Boise State and San Diego State.
The Big East currently has an automatic-qualifier bid to a BCS Bowl, but the system may be restructured in 2013.
“I think there’s still a lot of question marks out there,” Parmley said. “There’s such a strong push to take the AQ status away from the conferences and, if that happens and we complete this merger — whether those schools are here or not — it really levels a lot of the playing field along the entire football industry for college athletics.”
The five schools expect to get additional revenue through the Big East’s upcoming television contract, which is a major reason the schools are departing their respective conferences.
“Other than the additional dollars of TV revenue that they get in the Big East, and you see all kinds of different numbers, the playing field is pretty level if that happens in 2013,” Parmley said. “We’re moving toward the merger and trying to make that conference as strong as we can.
We’ll try to get a push for additional TV revenue that we can make out of that merger and, at the point, I think we’re in very good shape and in very good position.”
Lost will be the rivalries that Tulsa’s built over the years, especially with SMU and Houston.
“We hate to lose the rivalries with SMU and Houston, no doubt, but we think there are a lot of opportunities out there to create new rivalries with schools in that merger and with some already here,” Parmley said. “There’s a lot to talk about still and everything is still fluid. I don’t think conference realignment talk will be over with in the next year or two.”
Tulsa’s conference history has been fluid since joining the Western Athletic Conference in 1996.
Three years later, eight schools severed ties with the WAC to start the Mountain West Conference. In 2005, Tulsa left the WAC, along with SMU, Rice and UTEP, to join Conference USA.
TU has thrived in C-USA during the past seven years. The program has won 36 conference championships, more than any of the other 11 members since 2005.
Ross Parmley. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file