Texas Athletics Director Dodds: 'We're not a bully'

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | 9:17 p.m. CDT; updated 10:11 a.m. CDT, Thursday, November 3, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — It's hard to talk much about the Big 12 Conference's recent instability without hearing people accuse the University of Texas of being a bully.

Running a quick Google News search for "Texas Longhorns Bully" comes up with articles from ESPN, AOL, Dallas Morning News and the Wichita Eagle accusing the Longhorns of abusing their position of power inside the conference.

But not everyone shares the opinion that Texas has turned the Big 12 into its personal plaything.

In a conversation with the Missourian on Tuesday, Texas Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds shared his thoughts on realignment and how it relates to the Big 12, Texas and, of course, Missouri.

"I understand that they want to go to the Big Ten. I understand they want to go to the SEC. I'd rather they not," Dodds said of Missouri. "But Missouri's got to do what Missouri's got to do … It's apparent they're going to do it, and they'll be fine."

And despite the perception, Dodds said the Big 12's exodus over the past two years is not Texas' doing.

"We have stuck our neck out to save the Big 12, and we're not a bully," Dodds said. "We didn't cause it. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to keep something together for the Big 12 and that's what we're going to do, good Lord willing."

There are parts of that statement that are very easy to disagree with.

Texas has twice flirted with the Pac-12. Both its basketball and football coaches have been quoted in the past two months saying that Texas could have gone to any league in the country.

Its most recent "concession" was to modify the Big 12's revenue sharing system. The old system, in place until next season, distributed television revenue to schools based on how many times their games were shown. Schools like Texas, which are TV draws regardless of their records, were shown more often than schools like Baylor.

In the new system, the TV money will be divided evenly among all conference members, regardless of how many times their games are shown.

Seemingly, it's a concession on Texas' part to share evenly. But Dodds called the differences in revenue between schools in the old system "miniscule," and said that with the new Fox contract for the Big 12's Tier II rights that kicks in next season, even with equal sharing Texas' television revenue still stands to increase from $13 million to $20 million.

With the total amount of money increasing, the gap between schools would no longer have been so miniscule.

"With the dollars getting so big in the last Fox thing, the numbers  — had we kept the same formula — would have been, I don't know the right word, but grotesque is a word I've used before," Dodds said. "We made the motions to equal sharing both in the Fox and ABC/ESPN package."

It's even easier when you have a revenue source no one else has: The $15 million-per-year check coming in from ESPN for the newly-formed Longhorn Network.

Dodds said that at its inception, the Longhorn Network was never intended to be a major revenue stream at all. He said that the original idea was to provide an outlet for the Longhorns' non-revenue generating sports to get on television.

"These kids have parents, these kids have friends, these kids have communities, these kids have high school coaches, and we have fans that would like to watch that. Why do we not try to do something with that?" Dodds said. "And it started with us thinking that we were going to have pay money to do it. That never changed, ever."

But eventually it did, when TV networks came to the table with checkbooks in hand.

"Nobody was interested in it until Fox came up and said, 'We'll give you $3 million a year to do it.' And we were elated with that. We thought, 'Crap, they're going to pay for it. They're going to pay us, the kids get on TV, this is great,'" Dodds said. "Then ESPN walked in and said we'll give you an average of $15 million a year. And then it became a problem."

Theoretically, Texas could have turned down the money. But with about $226 million still owed on facilities, and the ability to do other positive things with the new revenue stream — $5 million per year goes into the University of Texas’ general fund — the money was hard to turn down.

"Would you have said no? Would Missouri have said no?" Dodds said. "No, they wouldn't have said no, they would have taken it. And we took it."

It was then that the accusations began to really intensify. Dodds said it was his understanding that the Longhorn Network was one of the biggest reasons that Texas A&M left for the SEC, and that while he was sorry to see them go, he didn't feel the Longhorn Network should be an issue.

"So are we being a bully? No, we feel like we're probably being good guys. Does somebody think we're being a bully? Well that's up to them to think we're a bully," Dodds said. "We want to keep the conference together, we want equal sharing, we want our own network for our kids, we'll give half of it to the university. If somebody can poke a hole in that, poke a hole in it."

People will certainly continue to blame Texas, though, and while it doesn't bother Dodds personally — "I don't give a flip what you think about me," he said — it bothers him when people perceive his university that way.

"I've talked to people like you until I'm blue in the face, and said the same thing, which is true, and out of it we get people in Kansas City writing that we're absolute bullies, and people writing somewhere else that it's our fault A&M’s leaving," Dodds said. "We just are easy to blame, I guess."

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Ed Rutledge November 3, 2011 | 11:56 a.m.

I think the gamechanger in this whole thing was ESPN and the obscene amount of money they offered up. The LHN more than anything served as a final straw (ok, log) to the feelings of inequality.

But Dodds is right, nobody expected a major network to throw up that kind of crazy money for 3rd tier rights. And any school out there would have happily signed as fast as they could get a pen out of their pocket.

That being said, Texas could have done more to be a consensus builder and go out of their way to be an equal partner.

(Report Comment)
Matt Welch November 3, 2011 | 1:23 p.m.

"Theoretically, Texas could have turned down the money." Rats. I KNOW I was going to type some kind of comment, but I couldn't stop laughing at that line long enough to remember what I was going to say...probably something about schools with institutional long-term raging inferiority complexes making a boogeyman out of the Longhorn Network, including a Texas school which earlier declined to partner with the University of Texas in a proposed regional network, opting instead for the SEC.

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane November 3, 2011 | 2:28 p.m.

Other schools should have worked harder on their tier 3 revenue. Don't get salty b/c your school didn't get as much. SMH Especially since tier 3 money isn't shared revenue.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 3, 2011 | 4:14 p.m.

Since the Big 10 is mentioned by Horn, nobody LEAVES the Big 10. Schools (Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska) have joined the Big 10, but nobody talks about leaving.

Before WW II someone - University of Chicago - left the Big 10, but not to go to another athletic conference. University of Chicago dropped big time college athletics and today participates in NCAA Division III. A characteristic of Division III is that there are no athletic scholarships.

(Report Comment)
Marc Ledet November 3, 2011 | 4:51 p.m.

To be fair, UT did flirt with the PAC-12 on two occasions, but:

1. The first was after Nebraska and Colorado announced they were leaving and UT among other schools did their due dilligence of what was out there now that the Big 12 was down to 10 teams (the good old days). They made the choice to stay, however.

2. The second time wasn't even their doing, as OU announced that they were going to the PAC 12 and taking OSU with them. UT flew up to Norman to convince them to stay, and OU would have none of it. UT talked to the PAC-12, and again, chose to stay. Due to the lack of UT's interest, the PAC-12 declined to take OU and OSU, and now we still have the Big 12.

So, say what you want about UT, but the two times they looked around were directly after other teams either announced they were leaving or were looking to leave and the future of the conference was uncertain. UT gets maligned for it, but I have yet to hear the same types of barbs hurled towards Nebraska, Colorado, OU or A&M.

p.s. Nice job beating the Aggies.

(Report Comment)
Jeff Douglas November 4, 2011 | 12:21 a.m.

I think there were three things that led to all of this mess, and remember, this deal was done AFTER Nebraska and Colorado left (Dec. 2010).

A) As posted above, I agree that no one anticipated that someone would come in an not only throw an obscene amount of money at the prospect, but build the network as well, saving Texas even more money.

B)I don't think anyone expected the contract to include the televising of a seperate Big 12 game. Especially one where the money was not equally shared. Additionally, the contract calls for Texas to assist in obtaining additional Big12 games.

C) The contract calls for the tevising of the Texas State High School Championship game, and for Texas to assist in providing access to other state high school games. (I think this was the real dealbreaker for ATM).

All in all, Texas may be the bully, but ESPN was the main culprit. I agree that any other B12 school would have done the same thing, but I would like to think they would have been more considerate. I hope ESPN chokes on this.

(Report Comment)
bill shanahan November 4, 2011 | 10:30 a.m.

You guys are falling for the propaganda? Let's do a little refresher shall we?

Bevo TV was okayed by conference members to show one non conference football game per year. That game would be the one that nobody else wanted and otherwise would be on PPV.

Bevo TV made no mention of High School content or that fact that ESPN via contract mandated UT to make arrangements with the UIL (the organziation that controls HS sports in TX's run by UT BTW) to get as much content as possible.

As it turned out ESPN bullied conference members to put a conference game Vs UT on the Bevo Channel rather than on network (free) TV. This was never discussed or agreed to by conference members. The folks in Austin, you know those honest UT admins, never mentioned it before ESPN started bribing schools like TxTech and Kansas. Actually it was more like bullying. If you dont think it was bullying....look at the Big East after they turned down ESPN's tv offer. They ripped the league apart. Kansas caved and then the LHN had it's second game of the year and it's first conference game.

High school content was never mentioned either. Then all of a sudden because some ESPN/Bevo TV exec spoke honestly about high school content and tying that into recruting. For example tune into the longhorn network to see UT recruting target xyz play against their rival. Gary Pinkel and Bob Stoops saw that and went ballistic. Rightfully so.

UT is not getting 15 million a year for olympic sports. They are getting that for multiple football games and for leading the way to turn high school sports into a for profit business.

(Report Comment)
sage walker November 4, 2011 | 2:15 p.m.

Missouri and ATMs moves are perfectly undersatndable and UT (Im a UT graduate) most definitely has been a bully. We have had the rest of the teams in the confernce under the long term implied threat of leaving for greener pastures or for independance.

We have used this threat, which we impose by lack of any long term contract and frequent flirtations with other conferences, to get our way and put real fear into our conference mates.

Why should Missouri stick around if we may leave them high and dry in 6 years when the contracts run out? When we make a move for our own network that could easily segway us into Independance?

And if not, terms would be dictated to Missouri for us to stay. Instead of being beholden to one team in atop heavy conference with an uncertain future, they chose to go to the best confernce in the land; and got long term security. Where might they be if we left the big 12 a few years from now?

That is the real reason Neb left too. Staying after we solidified our position, would be asking to get pushed around in the next wave of negotiations, or get left by us at a time of our choosing. Instead they go to the second best conferemce in the land.

(Report Comment)
bill shanahan November 4, 2011 | 4:26 p.m.

When the LHN was INITIALLY agreed to by the members of the conference....NO MENTION OF A CONFERENCE GAME...NO MENTION OF HS CONTENT.

When the cat was out of the bag (due to ESPN exec opening his yapper) concerning high school content was when the conference game was FIRST mentioned to fellow member schools.

Texas got caught. The members thought the LHN was 3rd tier stuff. Turns out it was 2 football games and high school content. None of this was mentioned when the LHN was first voted upon.

Did Texas lie? Did Texas hide the truth? Either way they were clearly dishonest with fellow members as to what the LHN was and what UT was getting paid for. It wasnt 15 million a year for swimming and the rice football game. Which is what the other conference members thought. In fact you see the comments on the shocking amount ESPN paid for so-called olympic sports and 3rd tier rights.

In fact it was about getting 1st and 2nd tier rights "reallocated" to 3rd tier and of course pimping Texas high school sports for money.

Texas will ditch the big 12 when they feel the time is right, no question. The schools remaining...including OU have no other options so they are stuck. Once Missouri leaves, that will mean every member with an option bolted. That should tell the folks with Bevo blinders what the truth is. U Texas is a lying greedy bully.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 4, 2011 | 4:50 p.m.

I almost broke my tv when I was watching another game on ESPN and they were advertising for the Longhorn Network telling me I should call my cable company and demand to have the longhorn network added to my programming.
We want your high school players but not your network!!!
c'ya Texas !!!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 4, 2011 | 6:52 p.m.

FactChecker: The Missourian requires, and we all like, that you use your real name here.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer November 4, 2011 | 10:50 p.m.

@Michael, thanks for sticking up for the policy! We emailed "Fact Checker" to let him/her know about the policy. If we're lucky, we'll get to add a real name and perhaps even restore the comment.

— Joy Mayer
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Matt Malaise November 5, 2011 | 4:17 a.m.

The misinformation and sanctimonious BS being spouted out here is maddening.

A few things are grossly misunderstood by people howling the loudest. These are tier 3 rights, first of all. Let's dispell Bill Shanahan's above WRONG assessment of 3rd tier rights. It is NOT just non-revenue sports and Texas snuck in 2nd and 1st tier events with football games. 3rd tier means only one thing. The 1st and 2nd tier affiliates (Fox, ESPN) passed on airing a game in their time slots, be it football or pole vaulting.

Now, let's take a look at revenue being generated on the 3rd tier by other schools...the same tier the LHN is on. I hope you enjoy hypocrisy.

Notice there are FIVE Big XII teams in the top 20 of this list, which was pre-LHN, and none are called the Longhorns. Also, take note of number 13 on the list. Yes, that is angry, poor, mistreated ex-girlfriend, Nebraska. So, basically, it is okay for Kansas to rake in over 8 million a year, but Texas can't bring in 15? Both are going it alone with 3rd tier rights and both are getting market value. Oh, and there at number 14 in the country, your own Missouri Tigers, bringing in a cool 4 million a year. This money is not shared with the Big XII.

No, you can spin it any way you want, but the only reason there is an uproar is that Texas' 3rd tier value was an utter shock and revelation to the rest of college athletics, and frankly, to Texas itself. No one ever dreamed it would be valued so high by ESPN. Kansas isn't mad that Texas is getting revenue for their 3rd tier rights they aren't sharing, they're mad they are getting double what Kansas doesnt share!

Look, do what is in your best interest. I don't blame you. But know what you are talking about and spare us the self-righteous nonsense.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 5, 2011 | 8:31 a.m.

"There's a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see,
No other darkie knows her, no darkie only me
She cried so when I left her it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.

[Note: This is the original version of the lyrics to this song, contained in a manuscript at University of Texas - Austin (archives). The Singer is intended to be a black man.]

Well now, isn't that just the sweetest song you ever heard? Please pass the boiled peanuts: we're trying hard to get acclimated to what's rumored to be our new athletic conference. :)

(Report Comment)

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