I have stated all along that one of the last straws for TAMU to get out of the B12 was the 2012 state of Texas budget. There used to be just two tier one research in the state. About 6 years or so, a amendment to the state constitution required the funding and creation of more tier one research schools. Well the 2012 budget split the research funding from between UTx Austin and TAMU, to now it is spread out among 8-10 schools. In other words TAMU is getting a much smaller piece of the research money pie. The university of Texas, with their network of campuses (which several are now receiving larger portions of the research pie due to this law), is a huge research monster and by itself compares with many conferences. TAMU could not compete with that, like most university networks. TAMU is similar to the other schools in the SEC, and nation. One flagship campus and several newer smaller campuses around the state. I fully believe what killed the PAC deal was not the Longhorn network, but that the UTx did not want to share academically equally with the rest of the PAC conference. After TX refused to share academically with the non-CA schools, they no longer had the votes to join the conference. In this last go round of re-alignment, it was no surprise that the two most unstable conferences were the two conferences with no academic networks - the B12 and the Big East. The B12 is forming a academic partnership, minus Texas. It was one of the requirements of OU to stop looking around, and WVU mentioned it as part of their accolades when joining the B12. As state and federal resources become tighter and spread thinner, academic partnerships and conferences will become more important and valuable. Research hospitals, petroleum fields, body farms, nuclear research facilities, civil engineering research facilities, marine bio-science labs, super computers are no longer being designed and built. These facilities built in the 30, 40, 50, and 60's are now under the umbrellas of your state schools and will not be cannot be duplicated. So yes Academics are huge in this upper level conference dance. Remember it is the people with the bowties that are making these alignment decisions, not the people with the whistles. Just remember that letter from the president of FSU in regards to the B12 academics and how much FSU would lose by leaving the ACC.
Whenever we point out that academics do matter to some extent in the conference expansion/realignment game — depends on the conference and its goals, obviously — we always hear from a few folks who say school prestige has nothing to do with league growth. “Conferences are a collection of sports teams!”
Well, for those who need more convincing with regards to schools binding not only their athletics but also their academics together, we bring you this press release we received today from the Southeastern Conference office.
Will you care? Probably not. Dry as a bone? To most. But still it should give everyone — everyone — an understanding that conference presidents view their league affiliations as something more than just sports groupings:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference is widely known for setting the standard of excellence when it comes to intercollegiate athletics. But even as the league was accomplishing a record-setting fall, which included Alabama claiming the SEC’s seventh consecutive BCS Championship, it also has been busy preparing for the inaugural SEC Symposium.
This first-of-its-kind event will address a significant scholarly issue across the range of disciplines represented by the SEC’s 14 member universities. The event showcases their academic excellence and underscores their educational and economic contributions to the vitality of the region, nation and world.
The 2013 edition of the SEC Symposium, entitled “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future,” will take place Feb. 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
Just as the SEC provides its student-athletes the opportunity to compete on one of the biggest stages in college athletics, the Conference will also afford its faculty members and standout students a prestigious academic platform from which to present and discuss their research and scholarly accomplishments.
The SEC Symposium is the brainchild of Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, current Vice President of the SEC Executive Committee and liaison to SECU, the league’s academic initiative.
“We are excited for the inaugural SEC Symposium,” Zeppos said. “This will provide an outstanding way in which to showcase the academic accomplishments and research efforts of our SEC institutions.”
This year’s event, led by the University of Georgia, will feature a wide variety of presentations from faculty representing each SEC institution, an SEC university showcase, poster exhibitions and a reception with the SEC Presidents, Chancellors and Provosts.
Established in January 2011, the University of Georgia’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute (BSRI), headed by Dr. Robert Scott, provides a synergistic collaboration of the university’s history of success in the areas of agriculture, forestry, environmental science and engineering to find a long-term solution to creating a sustainable and economically viable bioenergy future.
“Dr. Robert Scott has provided tremendous support of the SEC Symposium through BSRI,” said Torie Johnson, Executive Director of SECU. “Following his example, everyone has been eager to help organize our inaugural event in a way that not only highlights UGA, but that highlights the entire SEC membership. I appreciate their work in the bioenergy area and their willingness to translate it into a substantive program for the SEC Symposium.”
As synonymous as football is with the Southeastern United States when it comes to the sports world, so too is renewable energy a geographically natural fit for an academic conference that highlights the efforts of its region.
“To the leadership in our institute, it was obvious that this topic resonated with most of the SEC institutions,” Scott said. “In the Southeast there is, in particular, a lot of biomass – plant material – such as pine trees and switch grass, all of which make the Southeast a place where bioenergy makes more sense as a renewable energy source than say wind energy or solar energy.”
The SEC has always been at the forefront of recognizing and promoting the accomplishments of its students in the classroom. The Symposium affords the SEC just another opportunity to showcase the outstanding academic work of its students and faculty.
In 1992, the SEC became the first conference in the nation to assemble a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Since the implementation of the Graduation Success Rate, there has been a general trend of improvement in the GSR of student-athletes in the SEC. NCAA research indicates the student body graduates at a GSR comparable rate of 60 percent, which is exceeded by 90 percent of teams within the SEC. Since 2003, the SEC has had 170 student-athletes earn first-team Capital One Academic All-America recognition.
In 2005, the Presidents, Chancellors and Provosts from the then-12 SEC institutions created the Southeastern Conference Academic Consortium (SECAC) to coordinate efforts to bolster teaching, research, public service and other educational activities at the institutions.
The SECAC was the precursor to SECU, which in 2011 moved from the University of Arkansas and came under the direct auspices of the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.
Using its SECU academic initiative, the SEC sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its member universities.
For more information on the inaugural SEC Symposium and its participants, please log on to www.SECSymposium.com.