Multiple sources this weekend have confirmed to me the plane Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott is using to visit the Pac-10’s expansion school candidates in Oklahoma and Texas the past 48 hours.
Here’s the most recent itinerary of the plane, owned by former Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny:
Saturday: Traveled from Concord, CA Airport (Pac-10 offices) to Will Rogers Airport - arriving in Oklahoma City at 12:15p CT. (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State)
Sunday: Arrived at Huntsville, TX Airport outside College Station, TX at 8:54a CT. (Texas A&M)
Sunday: Is scheduled to depart Easterwood Field (College Station Airport) For Lubbock Airport at 11:10a CT. (en route to Texas Tech)
These flight plans indicate the activity we described yesterday, which had Scott “hand delivering” invitations to the Texas and Oklahoma schools on behalf of the Pac-10.
Most interesting though is the visit to College Station, where Texas A&M officials are weighing the prospect of joining the SEC.
UPDATE: Scott’s plane has since departed Lubbock and has arrived in Austin.
Also, interesting to note that the same plane was in Salt Lake City on June 11. That could indicate a meeting with the University of Utah, which is a rumored expansion school candidate - particularly as a travel partner of new Pac-10 member Colorado.
Utah reportedly could join the Pac-10 if the Texas and Oklahoma schools do not join the Pac-10. Or if Texas A&M decides not to join its four, former Big 12 brethren in a move west.
UPDATE (Sunday, 8:14p ET):
George Schroeder of the EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD reports today that former Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny has confirmed that his personal, private jet is being used to “ferry” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott to various cities that also happen to be the home of possible Pac-10 expansion candidate schools.
(A&M’s Wandering Eye Extending Expansion Process?)
Since June 11, Scott so far has visited Salt Lake City (Utah), Oklahoma City (OU, OSU), Lubbock (Texas Tech), Austin (UT) and College Station (A&M). The plane’s schedule is booked for an Austin-to-Kansas City flight on Sunday evening.*
The University of Kansas has been knocked around in the media as a possible Pac-10 expansion candidate in the past few days, especially as a replacement for A&M if the Aggies decide not to go west with the Texas and Oklahoma schools to the Pac-10.
*UPDATE (11:16p ET): The Pac-10 plane’s schedule has apparently either been changed, recently blocked or may involve a Monday flight.The Texas A&M Rivals site AggieYell.com is reporting Sunday evening that A&M has committed to joining the SEC. The Texas Rivals site Orangebloods.com reported the same earlier in the day.
But TexAgs.com, another credible Texas A&M site run by Billy Liucci, is reporting that the Aggies have still not decided what direction they will go. And Kirk Bohls of the AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN reports: “Texas sources say they have been told that Texas A&M is still considering both the Pac-10 and the SEC.”
As for the future of the Big 12, Mike DeArmond of the KANSAS CITY STAR reports late Sunday that the future of the league will allegedly be decided by Texas:
A source close to Big 12 Conference realignment negotiations has told The Star that chances for the league to stay together are “significantly greater than 24 hours ago.”
The same source said that a new television contract being touted by Commissioner Dan Beebe could produce “significantly more” than $17 million for each of the remaining 10 Big 12 schools. Perhaps upwards of $20 million per school.
And, that a departure penalty of around $20 million withheld from Colorado and Nebraska would mean $2 each to the remaining Big 12 members.
A source close to the realignment negotiations suggested that Texas - the key to league survival in its present form - would likely gain concessions for “getting to play the hero.”
It was concessions to Texas - for example in the form of uneven revenue distribution - on which an unstable foundation was laid when the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight Conference merged.
“There is a price,” the source said. “But the price is worth it, or its a price we have to pay.”
Since those media reports, Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin has released the following statement:
“As [athletic director] Bill Byrne and I have said on several occasions, our desire is for the Big 12 conference to continue. With the departure of two universities from the conference last week, the Big 12 is certainly not what it was.
We are aggressively exploring our options, one of which is for the Big 12 to continue in some form. We have also had extensive discussions with other conferences over the past two days. We continue to evaluate our options in a deliberate manner as we work toward a decision that is in the best long-term interests of Texas A&M.”
Loftin noting that “the Big 12 is certainly not what it was” certainly should send out warning signals to those who think the league can be saved.
UPDATE (Monday, 1:37p ET): The Pac-10 plane now has a flight plan departing Austin, Texas, at 12:55p CT and arriving in Stockton, California, at 2:23p PT.
If the flight plan of the plane is any indication, there was no trip to Kansas City and Scott may have concluded his trip.