SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby have responded to Tuesday's announcement of an alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. That alliance, created in the aftermath of the SEC's power move to poach Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, was short on details from its three commissioners. However, it covered broad philosophical topics such as scheduling and governance.
"We have respect for each of our conference colleagues and look forward to our future collaborations," Sankey said in a statement. "I believe we remain unified by our shared beliefs around the positive impact college sports has on the lives of student-athletes and throughout our communities. In the SEC, we are proud of our collective academic commitment and athletics accomplishments and look forward to continuing to offer our student-athletes great educational and championship opportunities in the years ahead."
Bowlsby, meanwhile, projected a message of confidence on behalf of his conference Wednesday, even though the new alliance appears to leave the Big 12 on an island in the evolving college sports landscape. Bowlsby pointed out what many observers have noted: that the details and real implications of the partnership between the three conferences remains unclear.
"The practical impacts of the arrangement are yet to be seen," Bowlsby said. "The Big 12 Conference has every expectation that we will continue to compete at the highest levels and will be intimately and actively involved in the national athletics agenda."
With Texas and Oklahoma on track to join the league by 2025 at the latest, the SEC has cemented itself as the premier conference in college sports. But that move has left the Big 12 in limbo. While it could attempt to expand by adding the best programs from Group of Five leagues such as the AAC or Mountain West, those moves would likely do little to help the Big 12 recoup the lost revenue associated with losing the Longhorns and Sooners. That could determine whether it maintains "power" conference status, both in terms of finances and influence, as groups like the alliance push their own agendas amid the SEC's power grab.
"We want and need the Big 12 to do well. The Big 12 matters in college athletics," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said during the announcement on Tuesday. "The Big 12 matters in Power Five athletics and in our FBS group. I can just tell you that we'll be watching what occurs here. Obviously, this transition isn't supposed to be taking place for another four years, but this group in particular will be very interested to see what happens and to do everything we can to make sure that college athletics looks similar to what it is today -- about the numbers of opportunities, the commitment to one another, the support of one another during really difficult moments, which we're faced with right now."