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Baylor president responds to Pac-10 expansion effort

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TWC News: Baylor president responds to Pac-10 expansion effort
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Amid speculation about who will be included in the Pac- 10 expansion, and the Big 12 realignment that may follow, Baylor University President Ken Starr called for Texas Big 12 schools to stick together.

Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said he’s already spoken with several universities, but the list of schools that could be invited does not include Baylor University.

Pac-10 may expand offers to six Big 12 schools. Those schools include the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Oklahoma University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Colorado.

"Baylor emphatically supports the Big 12," Starr said. "And we're hopeful the Big 12 will remain intact."

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said last week he's "comfortable" the league will remain intact.

The issue has also brought calls from state legislators, who are concerned about the implications that go beyond just the athletic program.

"A strong athletic presence is not just good for Baylor; it's good for this community right here in Waco, and it's also good for the great state of Texas," Starr said.

He went on to say television exposure through the conference strengthens the school's national reputation, while also helping to add revenue, jobs and student recruitment.

Rep. Charles 'Doc' Anderson, who represents the Waco area, said he has put in calls to the governor and lieutenant governor, among others, to get the legislature "up to speed."

"This has kind of been a wakeup call for all the universities that we have something here, and we need to preserve that and perhaps we can improve on it as opposed to letting it disintegrate," Anderson said.

Starr said they have received a lot of support over the last couple of days as the word has spread.

"The Baylor nation is really standing up of one cheerful accord and saying Baylor must remain in the Big 12 and let's keep the Big 12 together," he said.

However, Starr said that support has also come from other schools in the Big 12 conference as well.

"The Pac-10 has expressed interest in expanding," Starr said. "But I think we also know there has been a very clear set of statements coming out of the University of Texas that the University of Texas intends to stay with the Big 12."

That’s a statement Sen. Kirk Watson said goes a long way.

"The role that the University of Texas and others are taking, but primarily the University of Texas, in playing a leadership role to hold the Big 12 together is very important," Watson said.

While questions loom about the Pac-10 expansion, Watson said the goal for now is clear.

"We'll speculate about if it doesn't work at a later point in time," Watson said. "Right now the focus, I think appropriately, [is] on holding the Big 12 together."

According to Starr, everything hinges on whether the University of Nebraska will stay with the Big 12. That decision is expected later this week or early next week.

Pac- 10 Commissioner Scott said there are still many discussions that will come before any decisions are finalized.

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