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.
@HoustonVol That was a great bit of behind the scenes stuff. Makes perfect sense that Machen would also be looking for partnerships inside the converence to expand UF's research partnerships. Wonder if there is a site on the web that tracks partnerships for research funding. I know it is just too geeky, but you got me wondering. Thanks.
@HoustonVol This is fascinating insight that I had not seen anywhere else. Thanks for providing it. I've written on other threads about the role that state legislatures play in the research game. My favorite example is Ohio University. It suffered because the Ohio legislature decided in the late 1980s to consolidate all resources in a single state research university, thus effectively creating THE Ohio State University. Ohio U people are still smarting from that decision.
I suspect that the State of Alabama is similar. Why is the flagship state university rated so low in research? I think it's because the Alabama legislature has decided that UAB is the research university in that state. State money is required in order to get off the ground in the research game. If you don't have it, then you're not going to attract the PhDs; if you don't have PhDs, then you're not going to have the needed volume of grant applications; if you don't apply for federal grants, then you're not going to get them; and so on.