Big 12 finalizes basketball plans

Finishing among the top six in the regular season will be
rewarded with a first-round bye in the redesigned men’s and women’s
Big 12 basketball tournaments.

It’s one of the last adjustments the league had to make after
Colorado and Nebraska dropped out this year and reduced the league
to 10. As a 12-team league, only the top four teams got byes.

Under the new format, seeds No. 8 and 9 and 7 and 10 will play
on the first day. Then the quarterfinals will match No. 4 vs. No.
5, No. 3 vs. No. 6, No. 1 vs. the 8-9 winner and No. 2 vs. the 7-10
winner.

The league spent several months studying various possibilities
before adopting the new plan at its annual meetings on
Thursday.

”It went through our coaches groups, went through our
administrative groups, went all the way up the ladder,” said
commissioner Dan Beebe. ”I think there was consideration of all
sorts of formats. After all the discussion and debates about
various benefits and detriments of other formats, it ended up
unanimous.”

The league also decided the men’s and women’s tournaments would
run concurrently, Wednesday through Saturday. Last year, the women
had an off day between the semifinals and championship game.

”They felt more comfortable eliminating the off day,” said
conference spokesman Bob Burda. ”They felt if they ended on Sunday
it would be somewhat anticlimactic since the men’s championship
would have occurred the previous day.”

In another decision that may have more far-reaching implications
than are apparent, the Big 12 voted to sponsor championships in
rowing and equestrian, adding both as women’s sports. Presently,
only Kansas, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma have rowing teams and
only Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas A&M have
equestrian.

But making these sports subject to conference eligibility
requirements means they can help schools neutralize football’s
impact on Title IX gender requirements.

Squad limits will be 52 for rowing and 32 for equestrian.

”The feeling is as institutions go forward and look at possible
expansion, they’ll look at those two activities,” said Beebe. ”We
are increasing tremendously the opportunities for women.”

The conference also voted to increase from $7,500 to $9,000 the
Prentice Gautt postgraduate scholarship awards that are given every
year to two student-athletes at each Big 12 school.