The recent tempest over Texas A & M’s invitation to join the Southeast Conference, and Baylor University’s response to it, has resulted in some heated exchanges online. In following these verbal disputes, I have had the misfortune of reading some of the press op-ed accounts of how and why Baylor was invited to join the Big XII in the mid-1990s after the dissolution of the Southwest Conference. Most of these narratives range from the misleading to the outright false.
Fortunately, nearly four years ago a professional historian published an account of Baylor’s entry into the Big XII. It is the result of his research into the primary documents as well as extensive interviews with some of the most important figures surrounding the move. Authored by Thomas L. Charlton (Ph.D., University of Texas), Director of the Texas Collection and Professor of History at Baylor University, it appears as a chapter in the book, The Baylor Project (St. Augustine Press, 2007), edited by two of my other colleagues Barry G. Hankins and Donald D. Schemltekopf. Entitled, “A New Aspiration and Opportunity: Baylor and the Big XII Conference,” Professor Charlton’s chapter is a careful and historically accurate account of Baylor’s athletic history and how the university’s invitation to join the Big XII came about. It is a clear refutation of the “conventional wisdom” that has become ubiquitous on so many sports pages both online and in print.
I have posted a pdf of Professor Charlton’s chapter online here.