Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor in less than a week's time has been thrust squarely into the national spotlight as it pertains to conference expansion/realignment among college athletics' power leagues.
Just last week, Taylor was placed on the College Football Playoffs selection committee as that group's replacement for University of Texas A.D. Chris Del Conte.
The move is a direct result of Del Conte's athletics program, as well as those at the University of Oklahoma, jettisoning the Big 12 for future membership in the Southeastern Conference.
On Monday, appearing on 1350 The Game in Manhattan, Kansas, Taylor signaled he thinks the college athletics landscape has stabilized – for now.
“Nothing's going to happen this year, I'd be shocked,” Taylor told host John Kurtz. “Obviously, I don't think … I do have friends in other leagues and when I talk to those ADs that I'm close with, I'm hearing that they're not doing anything.”
Taylor did reveal that Big 12 Conference leaders are meeting at month's end in Dallas for “more face-to-face” discussions and exploratory talks about the future of the league.
Taylor also talked candidly about the past month's events – being blindsided by the Longhorns and Sooners, the league's remaining members drawing closer together to hold a frayed league intact and navigating the rumor mill.
“It started as kind of surprise and shock,” Taylor said on the show. “Then you kind of go through, you're upset and you're angry. Then all of a sudden, there's panic that sets in for a little while. Then you kind of begin to calm down and have more conversations with the other ADs in the room and learn as much as you can. The first week there was a lot of rumors, Oklahoma and Texas weren't communicating well with either the presidents or ADs.
“Once we found out more, and actually learned more about how the Grant of Rights work, all those kind of things, you begin to start strategizing little bit more and kind of get over the shock and the hurt and just say, 'OK, we gotta move forward. What's the best (route) for us to take?'
“I think the eight teams, it's almost galvanized us a little bit. You had the issue in Texas where they had the other schools that testified in front of legislative folks. I think the more we talk about what our options are, what's the best route for us to take, we keep saying it's best for us to stay together and the longer stay together more strength it gives us collectively.”
Taylor emphasized that he believes the Big 12 has time to fortify itself and referenced not only the league's Grant of Rights – Oklahoma and Texas presently are bound to the conference through the 2024-25 athletics seasons – but also the Atlantic Coast Conference's Grant of Rights and a Big Ten Conference that “doesn't need to add anybody.”
“We haven't solidified anything or headed down a certain direction,” Taylor said. “Just for now, there is time on our hands although people maybe sometimes don't believe that. Because the Grant of Rights has four more years left on that through 2024-25.
“The best thing for us is to stay together (as a conference) because if we start to fall apart, we lose the Grant of Rights and all the dollars that go along with that and doesn't put us in a good position.”
Taylor expounded on that approach and also trusting peers in a time in which all but a very select few people felt blindsided by the moves of the Longhorns and Sooners.
“Well I think you've kinda gotta do both: you've got to trust what they're saying but at the same time you've got to look out for, put yourself in position individually to build your resume the best you can,” he said. “I think there's enough frustration and anger and hurt with how it all unfolded that nobody wants to do that again and do that to other partners because of how they felt with how Oklahoma and Texas treated the eight of us.
“There's a lot of rumors, but look, the Big Ten doesn't need to add anybody. They're fine where they are. Their money is plenty where it is. The Pac-12 is probably one that has maybe right now the most challenging (path) because of TV revenue. The ACC has a Grant of Rights that goes through 2035. There's a lot of rumors out there that I don't think people know the difficulty of various situations in each of the conferences. I think we just have to understand there are going to be rumors and we have to stay true to each other and move forward together the best we can, the eight of us.”