Big 12 meetings: Day 2 notebook – Eighth official, unlimited snacks

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby

Denny Medley/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

IRVING, Texas –The athletic directors have hit the road after a quiet Day 2 of Big 12 meetings. The final day on Friday will close with the conference announcing its annual revenue numbers. Here’s everything you need to know about what happened on Thursday at the Four Seasons Resort & Club as the athletic directors, presidents and chancellors convened for their annual meeting.

Eighth official here to stay

The Big 12 was the first conference in college football to employ an eight-man officiating crew last season.

The league expects to do so again in 2014. The SEC announced plans last month to experiment with the eighth official.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby called feedback from the experiment "exceedingly positive" and "good in every respect I could name."

Using an eighth official cost the conference about $150,000 per season, and Bowlsby said all of the league’s coaches approved of its use.

"We felt like it gave our referee and our umpire especially a better opportunity to manage the game, especially the flow of the game, the substitutions of the game," Bowlsby said, adding that he spoke with every crew chief in the league last season, who each told him the eighth official was "a huge success."

"I think our officiating is the best in the country," he said.  

Big 12 kicking around big changes

With the Big 5 conferences eyeing autonomy in the near future, passing legislation will become a much simpler task, which could mean major changes to the recruiting landscape.

"This is a good time for looking at what we do in light of modern circumstances," commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "We haven’t looked at the recruiting model in its entirety for a long time."

Bowlsby had previously mentioned the idea of allowing schools to add scholarships for high APR scores or abiding by recruiting rules for extended periods of time. Thursday, he tossed out the idea of allowing more than one paid official visit, paying for families’ expenses to visit campuses and using FaceTime or Skype to do initial recruiting interviews.

The Big 12 is far from making any official recommendations, but Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione admitted some "groundbreaking" ideas were being discussed throughout the day’s meetings.

Big 12 basketball schedule moves

Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball could be playing conference games in December soon, Bowlsby said.

The women’s tournament was played March 7-10 this year, a week before the men’s tournament and more than a week before the women’s NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed.

Doing so meant teams didn’t get bye weeks during the conference season and produced complaints from coaches.

The earlier conference tourney dates provide more opportunity for the event to be televised, especially during afternoon TV windows.

"That affects recruiting and fan support," Bowlsby said.

One solution could be moving back the schedule. The conference is also still discussing moving the women’s and men’s tournaments to the same city during the same week.

"It’s been embraced as something we should evaluate," Castiglione said.

Bowlsby said the league agrees that it has the best men’s basketball tournament in college sports and "don’t want to do anything to diminish the quality or exposure of that tournament."

Food for thought at Oklahoma

The presidents and chancellors spent more time on Thursday exchanging information and discussing the logistics of implementing the NCAA’s rule change that allows for schools to provide athletes with unlimited snacks.

Castiglione was tentative to provide a hard number for how much the change would cost Oklahoma–he called it a moving target–but said the change would cost "more than $1 million."

K-State AD John Currie said Wednesday it’ll cost the Wildcats $700,000 to $1 million. Texas AD Steve Patterson said it’ll cost the Longhorns somewhere between $750,000 to "north of $2 million."

Castiglione said the school is still discussing several options of how to serve their student athlete’s needs, from handing out debit cards that could be used at local restaurants to bringing in food trucks to drive around campus where athletes congregate.

"We want to embrace the spirit of the rule, but there are more logistics to consider than many people realize," he said.

One question Castiglione and others have around the issue is exactly what an "unlimited snack" truly is, and how schools will inevitably use it to try and gain a recruiting edge.

"Is it fruits, nuts and bagels with the cream cheese and jelly people have been talking about?" he said. "Or is it a more significantly developed meal? Therein lies part of the discussion, and this is not to come across as complaining or whining. … It comes back to what the definition truly is, and I think intentionally, it was written to be broad and allow institutions to do what they want."

Can the Big 12’s cash keep pace?

The annual television revenue announcement is a staple of Big 12 meetings, and it will generate the most headlines on Friday’s final day of meetings. Last season, the Big 12 divided up $198 million into $22 million shares for eight Big 12 schools and $11 million shares for new members TCU and West Virginia.

TCU and WVU will receive 67 percent shares this year, and Castiglione said he felt good about the conference’s ability to keep up as the Pac-12 grows its television network and the SEC launches its own in August.

"In layman’s terms, those conferences which are in areas of larger population have historically done better financially with the rights and way they’re compensated for their television rights," he said. "Our conference is doing exceptionally well with the model and revenue distribution for each of the schools. Everybody knows what we expected and it’s more than where we were years ago."