LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents would prefer that Kansas and Kansas State remain in the same conference, even if the Big 12 eventually falls apart.
Board chairman Ed McKechnie told the Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that "our first hope is they stay together in the Big 12, and until something happens, I'm just not going to speculate on what else there could be."
The Big 12 has already lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12, and Texas A&M has decided to leave with an eye toward the Southeastern Conference. Oklahoma and Texas have been linked to the Pac-12, too, and their departure would likely signal the Big 12's demise.
Oklahoma president David Boren acknowledged last week the Sooners have been contacted by other conferences and that he expects to decide soon whether they will remain in the Big 12.
Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said last week Kansas and Kansas State are not necessarily connected should the Big 12 dissolve, but McKechnie said the Board would prefer that the two schools stick together. He also said the biggest problem facing the conference is its future is tied too much to football, which has become the biggest moneymaker in college athletics.
"Again, our preference is for the Big 12 to stay together, and that they're both in BCS-qualifying conferences," McKechnie said of the two Kansas schools. "One of the challenges we have is to switch the Big 12 from being a football conference to being an inclusive academic conference. So we have some work to do and we're prepared to roll up our sleeves and work to keep the Big 12 together."
If the league should fall apart, Kansas and Kansas State may not be left in the dark.
The New York Post reported Monday the Big East has studied the feasibility of adding three more schools - possibly the Jayhawks, Wildcats and Missouri - to create a super conference with 12 football-playing members and 20 schools that participate in basketball. That would allow the Big East to hold a lucrative football championship game and create even divisions in basketball.
The 12-team Big Ten could also continue expanding as other conferences grow.
Athletic directors for Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri all expressed their desire for the Big 12 to remain together Saturday, while the coaches for each school have largely stayed out of the fray.
"I don't know all that is taking place," K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. "Whatever happens - and I have no earthly idea what will happen - but whatever happens, Kansas State will land on its feet just because of the people. That's the nature of Kansas State."
Kansas coach Turner Gill said he stays in contact with Nebraska AD Tom Osborne, his former coach for the Huskers, but that the top of conference realignment never comes up. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel deftly sidestepped the entire topic during a conference call Monday.
"You know, I've got Arizona State this week," Pinkel said. "I really don't want to comment about it. I have absolutely no control over it. None."