Waco economy to face big losses if the Big 12 dissolves or splits

With Big XII's uncertain future, Waco's jobs and economy could also be in peril. Audrey La | Photographer Photo credit: Audrey La

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

After UT and OU announced their intentions to leave the Big 12 Conference and join the Southeastern Conference, Baylor fans and Wacoans alike faced the fear of the repercussions that this may generate with regard to revenue.

Dr. Ray Perryman, president and CEO of The Perryman Group, a local economic consultant firm, believes the best course of action for Baylor to uphold the Waco economy is to join “a highly-rated conference as soon as possible.”

Perryman has been with the Waco community since he graduated from Baylor in 1974. He served as a professor of economics in 1977 and remained on staff at the university in some capacity until 1994.

Perryman explained that while the situation with the Big 12 remains unknown, economists can predict what might happen if such events do take place.

“It is impossible to project how realignment will play out, but for Baylor, the option with the highest television revenue and visibility on a national stage will lead to the best economic outcomes,” Perryman said.

The Perryman Group released an in-depth report on what may come from the Big 12 suffering these losses. In this report, the Perryman analysts list several possible outcomes, with all of the outcomes including a loss of jobs, revenue and exposure in the Waco community.

While the potential losses are large, Perryman remains optimistic about Baylor’s athletic programs.

“Baylor certainly has the athletic record to justify being included in the major group reigning: men’s basketball champion, perennial power in women’s basketball, relatively recent Heisman Trophy winner, highly-ranked football teams and strength in many other sports,” Perryman said. “Baylor will almost certainly find a place in some competitive conference even if the Big 12 dissolves.”

Looking toward the Waco community, though, restaurants, tourist locations and businesses may suffer from the Big 12 split.

“Waco and Baylor have always had a mutually-supportive relationship, and I fully expect that to continue,” Perryman said. “Friends of the university will also support the teams—including students, alumni, employees and others who have been influenced by Baylor.”

Spring, Texas, sophomore Andrew Khalaf said he believes that while the energy and spirit may momentarily change after the Big 12 dissolves, Baylor fans will unite together.

“The energy in the stadium will shift after OU and UT leave, but the Baylor family will keep going,” Khalaf said. “We will support the Bears no matter what happens.”

In a press release regarding the uncertainty of the Big 12, President Linda Livingstone was transparent with the Baylor family, ensuring all fans that they will act in the best interest of the university at all times.

“You can be assured Baylor and her leadership are proactively and aggressively engaged in best positioning the university for the future, both athletically and academically,” Livingstone said in the press release. “We have a great story to tell.”

While the future is unknown and is leaving many Baylor fans anxious to see what happens, Perryman has firsthand knowledge of the positive outcomes that change can bring to college athletics, even when they are unexpected.

“When I first went to Baylor about 50 years ago, it was considered one of the weakest programs in the country and, within a few short years, gained respectability,” Perryman said. “The loss of tens of millions of dollars in television revenues and reduced exposure will certainly be felt, but enthusiasm will endure.”