STORRS, Conn. — University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst says she expected the Big 12 would decide not to expand and is not disappointed that UConn wasn’t invited to join the conference.
Herbst, who also serves as chairman of the board of directors for the American Athletic Conference, told The Associated Press Monday that the experience of making a presentation to the Power Five league gave her a better understanding of where the American stands in the athletic spectrum and what UConn has to offer as a top athletic and academic institution.
“Most of the schools they were talking to were in our conference,” Herbst said. “I think that shows, without question, that our conference plays at their level and are athletically and academically appropriate to be a Power Five.”
Athletic Director David Benedict said no matter its conference, UConn has a strong national identity, and “a record of national athletic success that has been the envy of many other institutions.”
The school was one of three major athletic programs last year to send its football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams to the postseason.
And since 1995, UConn has won 11 women’s basketball national championships, four men’s basketball titles, two in field hockey and one in men’s soccer. The school’s football program also has been to six bowl games.
But the Big 12 decision means UConn will continue to compete without the revenue that a Power Five affiliation would bring with it.
UConn has a $71 million athletic budget.
The Big 12 has a 13-year, $2.6 billion television contract it signed in 2012. The American signed a six-year, $126 million deal with ESPN that expires in 2020.
In June, the Big 12 announced record payouts to members of $30 million each. UConn, in addition to its share of the conference TV money, gets $10 million a year as part of the breakup of the old Big East. That revenue stream dries up next year.
Herbst said UConn must continue to work to improve its revenue model, but that “the American is a great place for UConn.”
She said much of what happens when it comes to realignment in athletics is out of the school’s control.
“But we have a lot in our control,” she said. “Our attendance, how we take care of our student athletes, the fun that we have and the pride that we have in UConn athletics. We’ll work on what we can.”