When Rick Hart became SMU’s athletic director back in August the Mustangs were set to join about 14 teams in the Big East. Three months later two outside conferences each grabbed a team from the group causing others to abandon ship and leaving SMU dazed and confused.
“It’s a very volatile time in the industry in regards to our conference realigning,” said Hart at the Faculty Club Distinguished Luncheon on Tuesday. “We are certainly no strangers to it here at SMU.”
A group of the deserting teams purchased the Big East name to use for their own brand new conference. So, not only is SMU moving into a fragile conference but a nameless one- leaving many members of the community concerned about the school’s athletic future.
Both Hart and SMU’s President R. Gerald Turner have been adamant in placing equal importance on academic and athletic performance.
“We think of athletics as a vehicle to success,” said Hart.
The new and unnamed conference will consist of ten teams that will have football, basketball and a variety of other sports.
“[The name will] be determined within the next few days,” said Hart. “Until we know what it is and what it looks like as a brand, I think it will be hard to choose on a name [alone].”
Earlier in the year Turner spoke on 1310 AM the ticket about the uncertainty of the situation facing SMU. He said that the Mustangs were doing everything they could within their control. Hart told the faculty club much of the same.
“It’s starting to settle down…we think,” said Hart. “It has been disruptive in that the uncertainty has affected planning and recruiting. We are being as proactive as we can be but so much of that is beyond our control.”
One of Harts biggest fears is a more trivial one- the acronym of the new conference. The wrong name could make the conference the punch line of jokes for years.
“You always got to think what’s the acronym on that,” said Hart. “One of them is ‘The Big Metro Conference.’ It’s not my favorite, but it’s one on the list. You know, I see BMC and think ‘Big Man on Campus.’ But someone could call it the BM conference.”
All kidding aside, Hart said he is confident the right name will surface soon.
Despite the instability of the new conference SMU will still receive the national exposure it originally desired with the move to the Big East.
“Ninety percent of football games are on national television, 64 percent of men’s basketball games are on national television, and 60 percent of women’s games [too],” said Hart. “So, we have an opportunity to really showcase SMU to a national audience over the next two three years.”